Defender Leon Balogun is buzzing to star for Nigeria in the Africa Cup of Nations – even though a European organisation Rangers are part of want to hold players back from going.
The defender hasn’t played a game for the champions since the Premier Sports Cup loss to Hibs at Hampden and has missed all seven matches of Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s tenure through injury.
But he’s expected to be named in the Super Eagles squad for Cameroon along with Joe Aribo and Calvin Bassey.
The Ibrox side face a wait to see if they can delay their departure until after the final game before the Scottish winter break against Celtic on January 2 – while it was also reported this week the European Club Association, of which Rangers are members, are attempting to block players from going entirely over Covid fears.
There are even fears CAF could shelve the tournament at the last minute but Balogun blocked out all of that noise as he insisted he’s the bossy one in the dressing room.
He said: “Expectations are very high, but I’m just happy and grateful for another great opportunity to play in a big tournament with Nigeria.
“I bring maybe some kind of German mentality in here. I know some of the lads sometimes think I’m too strict and too vocal, but that’s just me and the game, it’s never personal. It’s just how I was raised in football.
“It’s about the team, about the collective, the better we do as a collective, the better I can be. It’s never about my own performance in particular. Of course, I need to put in work and do my best and give in my all, but I can’t win a game alone, no one can. It’s all about the collective performances always.
“I think I’ve been very blessed and happy to play in a generation of the Super Eagles where we always have great unity.
“I’ve played a World Cup with Nigeria, I’m going to play AFCON with Nigeria, I have faced great teams with Nigeria so would you regret it?
“There is no point in me regretting anything. I’m super grateful and it’s always a great experience to be here, I love the different vibe.”