Nathan Tella has not yet been able to earn a regular place at Leverkusen – but his dream of becoming an international is already coming true
In the summer, Nathan Tella moved from relegated Premier League side Southampton to Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the Rhineland for €23 million and signed a long-term contract until June 30, 2028. His ambitions were high, but he has yet to become a regular.
He has made five Bundesliga appearances this season, but has only been substituted by coach Xabi Alonso each time and is still waiting for his first goal in the Bundesliga. The 24-year-old got more playing time in the cup, where he played until the 64th minute in the 5-2 win at Sandhausen, and especially in the Europa League, where he started three out of four games and scored his debut goal in a competitive match in the 2-1 win at Molde FK on matchday 2.
National team wish comes true
Tella, who has both English and Nigerian citizenship, had made no secret of the fact that he wanted to mature into an international at Leverkusen – not an England international, but a Nigeria international. “Over the past few years, I’ve realized that Nigeria is an important part of my life. I’ve been a London boy all my life, but if I got the opportunity to play for Nigeria, I’d be more than happy,” the attacking player explained.
His wish is now coming true. Like his club colleague Victor Boniface, Tella has been called up to the 23-man squad of the “Super Eagles” for the opening games in the World Cup qualifiers against Lesotho (November 16) and Zimbabwe (November 19). This was announced by the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) on Thursday evening.
However, the three-time African champions will have to do without their top star Victor Osimhen. The SSC Napoli striker has been ruled out with a thigh injury and will therefore not be available to Portuguese coach José Peseiro.