Super Eagles have lost out on having Folarin Balogun represent Nigeria at senior level after the former Arsenal youth player opted to represent the United States going forward, a huge boost for the 2026 FIFA World Cup co-host.
FIFA on Tuesday announced its approval of a formal request made by the U.S. Soccer Federation to alter Balogun’s national eligibility from England.
This decision opens the door for the 21-year-old, originally born in New York, to represent the United States at the international level. Balogun had previously represented the United States and England at youth levels.
Despite being born in New York and his family emigrating to the United Kingdom when he was two-years-old, Balogun was also eligible to represent Nigeria through his parents who are of Yoruba descent.
His decision to join the United States men’s national soccer team got solidified after being snubbed by England manager Gareth Southgate in March despite his impressive scoring form in France. The English Football Association (FA) also had to consent to the change of eligibility.
“We are delighted that Folarin has chosen to represent the United States,” said USMNT head coach Anthony Hudson.
“Not only is he an extremely talented player, he’s also a good man who is going to add value to our National Team both on and off the field at a time when the team is continuing to improve. It’s clear that he values his U.S. roots and we can’t wait for him to come in and be a part of the team.”
The Nigeria Football Federation in the past had courted Balogun who has had a breakout season while on loan from Arsenal to Reims. He’s scored 19 goals this season and has become somewhat of a cult hero at the club. His future with Arsenal is however, uncertain as he is demanding more playing time before considering signing a new deal.
Balogun has been selected for the CONCACAF Gold Cup which it’ll host from June 24-July 16.
“My decision to represent the United States came together with my family,” said Balogun.
“In the end it became a no-brainer, but for sure it’s just something I wanted to do and it feels like I’m at home here. To represent the United States means a lot, more than people would know. I’m very proud and honored to have this opportunity, and I want to give everything I have to make our team successful.”