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Ashleigh Plumptre: Leicester City defender switches international allegiance from England to Nigeria

22:07 GMT+3 03/01/2022
Ashleigh Plumptre
The 23-year-old had previously represented the country of her birth at U15, U17, U19 and U23 level

Ashleigh Plumptre has decided to pledge her international allegiance to Nigeria having previously represented England at youth level. 

The 23-year-old, who joined Leicester City from LA Galaxy OC in 2020, has opted to represent the Super Falcons at international level.

Plumptre has now been cleared by world football's governing body FIfa and is eligible for Nigeria's 2022 Women's Africa Cup of Nations play-off against Cote d’Ivoire in February.

The defender was born in England to a Nigerian father and a British mother and turned out for the English national team at U15, U17, U19 and U23 level, but she now expects her first full international call-up by coach Randy Waldrum.

In July 2021, she was part of the Nigerian team that camped in Austria ahead of the Aisha Buhari Cup that took place in Lagos in September.

"We are happy to receive Ashleigh's official clearance from Fifa," NFF’s Ademola Olajire told BBC Sport Africa.

"It was only possible because of her commitment and dedication. She made the federation's work a lot easier by providing all the requirements in quick time.

"Ashleigh personally approached the English FA directly to get the required international clearance from that end.

"Her professionalism and unflinching desire to play for Nigeria is honestly heart-warming. That big move on her part obviously helped a lot and prevented the long wait for the FA's response."

With this development, Plumptre joins the likes of Michelle Alozie, Patricia George, Nicole and Toni Payne, who all opted to represent the nine-time African champions.

"She got all the documents in a few months without being forced or persuaded," he added.

"We've been through this Fifa process with other players in the past and others needed to be reminded. Ashleigh made personal sacrifices to ensure a smooth clearance."

Since joining Lydia Bedford's side after spells at Notts County and LA Galaxy, she has been a key figure in the Foxes squad.

Also, Plumptre played a key role in the club’s promotion to the top division of women’s football in the just-concluded season.

She expressed her desire to meet with Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfred Ndidi, whom she described as her role models.

"With Leicester, Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho have been good role models for me,” Plumptre told BBC.

“It’s funny we haven't met but that's all because of Covid but at some point, hopefully, we'll be able to meet each other."