Folarin Balogun, a promising striker, has chosen to play for the United States rather than England.
FIFA confirmed to The Associated Press on Tuesday that it had authorised a request to shift Balogun’s national team allegiance from England, which he had represented at the under-21 level, to Nigeria.
Balogun, 21, was born in New York and raised in London. He has 19 goals in the French league this season while on loan at Reims from Arsenal. He was also eligible to play for Nigeria due to familial connections.
Balogun announced the transfer on social media with the words “I’m coming home” and “Let’s make history.”
“Not only is he an extremely talented player, but he’s also a good man who is going to add value to our national team both on and off the pitch at a time when the team is continuing to improve,” said US interim coach Anthony Hudson in a statement. “It’s clear that he values his American roots, and we can’t wait for him to join the team.”
Balogun is in high demand after a breakthrough season in France.
For most of the season, he was competing with Kylian Mbappé for the top scoring spot, but the Paris Saint-Germain star currently has 26 goals. Balogun is in sixth place.
Balogun, who was born in Brooklyn to Nigerian parents who lived in London, said he made the decision to play for the United States alongside his family.
“We decided that representing the country where I was born would be the right thing for me.” “In the end, it was a no-brainer,” he remarked in an interview with the USSF.
Balogun revealed how he got to be born in the United States in an interview with the French league website last year.
“My parents were on holiday there for a few months because we have family in New York,” he said. “However, we all moved back to London very soon after I was born.”
“London is my city, it’s where I grew up, where my friends are, and if people ask me where I’m from, I say I’m English,” Balogun said. But, certainly, I am a synthesis of all of these cultures.”
He was developed at Arsenal, where he had coaching sessions with club legend Thierry Henry, and he represented England and the United States at junior level before breaking into the England U21s.
His choice to represent the United States comes only five weeks before England competes in the Under-21 European Championship, which Romania and Georgia are hosting.
FIFA regulations enable players to alter their national eligibility before participating in a senior-level competitive game.
During a March visit to Florida, the US and Hudson courted Balogun. The elite player pool is anticipated to be utilised for CONCACAF Nations League games against Mexico in Las Vegas on June 15 and Panama or Canada three days later.
“Fortunately for me, my first time will be in a competitive tournament, so of course the ambition is to win, and there’s not really much else to it,” Balogun said in an interview with the USSF. “I’ll have the opportunity to get in and train with the boys, but it’ll be business as usual when we head to Vegas.”
A group made up largely of Major League Soccer players will compete in the CONCACAF Gold Cup from June 24 to July 16, when Europe-based players will be on holiday before returning to clubs for preseason training.
For the following three years, the United States, Mexico, and Canada will mostly play friendlies in preparation for co-hosting the first 48-team men’s World Cup in 2026.