Super Eagles Debut Will Be Dream Come True-Tella

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The 24-year-old Bayer Leverkusen winger has been named in the Super Eagles squad for the ties in Uyo and Huye, Rwanda.

Born in Lambeth, England, but eligible for Nigeria through his parents, his international future had been the subject of significant speculation since he first began to make an impression in the youth set-up at Arsenal.

“It’s always been about representing Nigeria,” Tella told BBC Sport Africa.

“My family will be over the moon to watch me fulfill that dream.

“I am proud of my British and Nigerian sides and lucky to have both backgrounds. Of course, we have both worlds, but ours is a proper Nigerian home [with] culture, food, and tradition.”

Tella was one of the standout performers for Burnley last season as the Clarets earned promotion back to the Premier League, but he returned to parent club Southampton at the end of the campaign.

The forward, who is capable of playing either out wide or through the middle, had 22 goal contributions in the Championship last season and joined Leverkusen in a reported £20m deal in August.

His new side is undefeated at the top of the German Bundesliga after 10 matches and his speed, dribbling and delivery into dangerous areas would, in theory, give the Super Eagles an added dimension in attack.

After missing out on the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the West Africans kick off their qualifying campaign for 2026 against Lesotho and Zimbabwe on 16 and 19 November respectively.

Nigeria is expected to come through Group C ahead of the likes of South Africa and Benin, with the group winners guaranteed a spot in Canada, Mexico, and the United States after the finals were expanded from 32 to 48 teams.

Nigeria has succeeded in integrating England-born players like Ola Aina, Semi Ajayi, Joe Aribo, and Ademola Lookman into the current squad, and it is expected that Tella will follow in the same vein.

“The players in the squad are talented and to compete against them to represent a massive nation like Nigeria is the stuff of dreams,” Tella added.

“Nigeria is undoubtedly one of the biggest in African football and the passion of the fans is on a different level.”