Meet Ashleigh Plumptre, the England footballer who accepted to represent Nigeria

 Ashleigh Plumptre is almost caucasian with 30 caps for England at the youth level yet her life-long dream is to put on the green and white of the Super Falcons. 

Although she has never stepped foot in Nigeria, the Leicester City player of the season said representing the West African country is an opportunity that she “would happily grab with both hands.”

On Thursday, Plumptre’s wish was granted after Randy Wladrum, Super Falcons head coach, included the 23-year-old English-born defender in his 26-woman list ahead of the Aisha Buhari invitational tournament, which holds in Lagos later this year.

The six-nation invitational tourney will see the Super Falcons lock horns with Ghana’s Black Queens, Cameroon’s Indomitable Lionesses, Banyana Banyana of South Africa, Morocco, and Mali.

The tournament, which is billed for September, will be her first time in Nigeria.

The country, she said, kept calling to her through her father’s heritage. Born to British parents, with a quarter Nigerian side, and with the influence of her paternal grandfather, who is rooted in the Nigerian culture despite years away from the country, she’s bent on heeding to the call.

“What representing something that really means to somebody is very important. Obviously, there’s a lot of things I can openly say that I don’t know about Nigerian culture, but I want to learn because I know that it’s in me, and it’s in my sister and in my dad,” she told BBC.

“We can only get it from my granddad; he’s the only thing that we know in terms of Nigeria. I’ve obviously visited Nigerian relatives in America and in England.

“Seeing this little journey my sister and I have been on, and the understanding of our family heritage, not just that but watching Nigerian documentaries and learning about the past is incredible.”

Last season, she was a lynchpin in the rearguard of newly-promoted Leceister City as they cruised to the 2020/2021 FA Women’s Championship title and was rewarded with an extension of the contract with the Foxes — a club she joined since age 8.

Despite the fact that her growing skill-set is garnering her attention in England, Plumptre’s eyes are fixed on the Super Falcons’ rich history of triumphs and talented players.

Asisat Oshoala had significantly influenced Plumptre, especially during the multiple CAF African best player’s stints in England with Liverpool and Arsenal.

“When you look around, there are several Nigerian players playing at the top level of the women’s game,” she said.

“With the Super Falcons, I have been following them and the continued progress the team is making. But one player that I remember is Asisat Oshoala.

“She was at Liverpool when I played for Notts County, then I was about 16, and the big thing was having Oshoala over at Liverpool.

“That was the big name, and then she obviously went to Arsenal. And everybody knew of her and how talented she was. For me, an English person, she was Nigerian football to me.”

When Plumptre touches down in Lagos for the Aisha Buhari tourney, hears the instrumental-heavy tune of her favourite Sunny Ade, bites into the moi moi that she loves so much and files out the green colours of Super Falcon, she is bound to enjoy the salient satisfaction due to someone whose dreams just come true.

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