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BALOGUN LOOKING FORWARD TO ENGLAND TEST

1 June 2018

Geoff Penn
Leon Balogun

New Brighton & Hove Albion defender Leon Balogun is looking forward to facing England at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, as the Super Eagles step up their preparations for this summer’s FIFA World Cup.

Balogun is eager to add to his 14 caps against Gareth Southgate’s side, and feels his decision to ply his trade for the African nation is reaping dividends.

He said,"I think my chances [of playing] are quite high. I played in almost all the qualifying games and I think I had a big impact as well.

"It will be very special, especially because I am half German, half Nigerian. My father is Nigerian, my mother German.

"When Nigeria came in, it was clear for me. I hadn't played for Germany before. That possibly would have made my decision harder, but I am glad that I chose Nigeria.”

The 29-year-old admits that the prospect of playing at this year’s World Cup will be even sweeter after picking up an injury in his debut against Mexico four years ago.

"It was an advertisement board. I went up for a header and when I came down, because the sign was very close to the side line, I just stepped against it with my foot on the sign.

"Then I flew over, returned back on the field and after five minutes more, it just felt something inside my foot was moving. I kicked the ball a couple of times and then I just sat down, was subbed and later we did a scan.

"I think it was in some hospital in Atlanta. They told me the foot was fractured, so I knew probably the World Cup 2014 would take part without me. It was quite sad.

"It definitely makes it even more special, emotionally. A lot of people said, then, that my career could be over. My club, Fortuna Dusseldorf, wouldn't give me a new contract. It was a tough time, but I'm a very optimistic person. I got back up and here I am again.”


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