News Live Scores
African All Stars

Udogie hands Nigeria blow as he picks Italy for international matches

09:50 GMT+3 16/04/2022
Destiny Udogie of Nigeria and Udinese.
The 19-year-old left-back reveals why he has decided to represent the Azzurri at the expense of the Super Eagles

Nigerian prospect Destiny Udogie has openly claimed he feels more Italian and will love to play for the country at the expense of the Super Eagles on the international stage.

The 19-year-old, who plays as a defender for Serie A club Udinese on loan from Hellas Verona, was born in Italy but is of Nigerian descent.

When asked where his international future lies between Nigeria and Italy, Udogie told Carlo Garganese and Nima Tavalley on The Italian Football Podcast: “I was born in Italy, so I feel more Italian. I grew up playing with the young players in Italy, so I want to continue with Italy.

“I hope to reach the first team and play as many matches as possible.”

Udogie further believes he will soon break into the Italian national team.

“Of course, it is my ambition to make it to the senior team,” Udogie responded when asked if his age will hinder his target to play for Italy. “I just have to do my best in every game so I can show him [Roberto Mancini] my qualities and it is a big ambition I hope to be able to reach.”

Udogie grew up in the Hellas Verona youth system, and he made his Serie A debut on November 8, 2020, in an away 2-2 draw against Milan. On July 15, 2021, he joined Udinese on loan with an obligation to buy.

On September 3, 2021, he made his debut with the Italy U21 squad, playing as a starter in the qualifying match won 3-0 against Luxembourg.

On whether he has been to Nigeria before and his favourite Super Eagles player, Udogie said: “Yes, I have been to Nigeria but I was very small…I think I was two years then, so I don’t remember much but I have been there and my favourite player, of course, is Jay-Jay Okocha because he is a big legend and everyone in Nigeria knows him, he is my biggest idol.”

Udogie was also asked to name the best striker in Serie A between Nigeria’s Victor Osimhen of Napoli, Serbian Dusan Vlahovic of Juventus, and Italian Ciro Immobile of Lazio.

“The best striker I will say…maybe Dusan [Vlahovic],” Udogie responded. “Because he has all the qualities needed in a striker like he has the physique and he can finish well, so I think for his age, he is very good.”

The decision by the left-back to turn down Nigeria comes just a few months after Nigeria Football Federation managed to convince Leicester City winger Ademola Lookman to drop England for the Super Eagles.