In light of the NFF boss’s previous assurances, the Swansea forward’s England call-up raises crucial questions about his leadership
The drama surrounding Tammy Abraham’s international future has finally come to an end. The youngster, on loan at Swansea City from Chelsea, has been called up to the England squad for their next set of international matches.
It’s probably a good thing for everyone involved. Prior to this, there was an uncertainty that helped no one, not the player, and not the two countries contesting for his allegiance. Nigeria made the first move, but England will have the last laugh.
The Three Lions may be getting him now only to tie him down and ward off the country of his ancestry, but the truth is that, however you look at it, the Nigerian Football Federation made it easier for them by lack of awareness and being naive.
The first time many Nigerians became aware of the Swansea striker was on the visit of NFF President Amaju Pinnick to England, and the Glass House quickly jumped in, eager to mark the territory as theirs. They instead managed to alert England: like a thief in the night, but without the care and silence required.
The striker was, after all, very prolific in the Championship, before returning to his part club, only to be loaned out again. He is obviously playing at a higher level now, but he has not looked world class or really exciting compared to the options England already have: the likes of Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge. They don’t need Tammy, but they can make sure no one else has him.
All of these calls into question the integrity of Pinnick at the helm of the NFF’s affairs. The NFF boss informed us that he had spoken with Tammy and his family, and had gotten an assurance that the lad would choose Nigeria. He promptly posted pictures and all, probably as proof.
All that fell apart around him though, almost as soon as the news came out. Tammy immediately declared himself confused, stating clearly that he had made no such commitment. Since then, there has been a back and forth over the matter, and Abraham has been made the villain for either going back on his word or being coerced into changing his mind.
Now, with England’s invitation and the player’s tweet reacting to the news, maybe we should be questioning Pinnick and not Tammy.
Since assuming office, the seasoned football administrator has made it his priority to attract foreign-born players for the Super Eagles. For a long time, that seemed like the only real positive of his tenure: there were no Nations Cup participations to celebrate, just the pride of beating England to young players.
Could it be that Pinnick got carried away and careless due to his previous successes in this area? Did he misunderstand?
These may be the only excuses for him to fall back on, bad as it sounds. The alternative is less pleasant: that the NFF boss flat out lied.
If we go by the first, the question now is: can we trust Pinnick going forward?
Is his bad handling of this situation not a warning sign and a source of worry for the country in its bid to attract the very best talent in diaspora?
If we take the second though, the question is even more pointed: should we trust a man who would lie in order to make a point and bolster his own image to lead our football?
The questions are piling up, and while many have decided that Abraham will regret his international choice, maybe we should be more worried about what’s happening closer to home. He has laid his bed, and we will also have to lie in ours.