Real Madrid and Spanish U21 international defender Derik Osede Prieto has told the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) that he is available to play for Nigerian Super Eagles and not the Spanish national side.
The 22-year-old center-back, simply known as Derik, who has played at all youth levels for Spain including two appearances for the Under-21 team, told BBC Sport that he is ready to represent Nigeria at any stage he may be needed to feature because his father is Nigerian. He is a regular for the Spanish La Liga side, Real Madrid’s second string team, and is eligible to play for the Super Eagles because he is yet to be capped by the Spanish senior national team.
But with the Spanish senior side boasting of proven talents such as Sergio Ramos, Gerrad Pique, Jordi Alba, etc in their defense line, Derik seems to have given up on the possibility of challenging them for chance to break into the La Roja and is therefore putting out a come-and-get-me plea to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
“I have lived in Spain all my life and I am not sure the people in Nigeria are aware that I have Nigerian blood, but I crave for something special with Nigeria because it will give me a chance to properly connect with the ancestral home of my father. My father is from Benin City (southern Nigeria) and even though I have never been there I always follow events in Nigeria. I celebrated when the country won the Africa Cup of Nations in 2013 and I was cheering the team at the last World Cup in Brazil, Derik told BBC Sport.
“Playing for Spain was the foundation to where I am today and I can never take that for granted. You can’t throw away your education or outgrow it, Spain gave me what I have now and my hard work got me to where I am, but somehow I feel one half of my life has always been left untouched and I need to fix that.
Some has suggested that he could be using Nigeria as a bargaining chip in his push for a call-up for the Spanish senior teams, but Derik was quick to reject such suggestions. He insists that even though people may not understand why he is dumping Spain for Nigeria, it is a decision he made on his own and by himself.
He said: “Even if it’s difficult for some people to understand, I have made my decision (to represent Nigeria) and am going to stick to it. My father has not influenced my decision in any way. I respect him and adore his outlook on life but it’s my personal desire to play for Nigeria.
“When you look around Europe there are several Nigerian players playing at the top-level and the future looks bright for the team. With that in mind I want to be a part of that group. I do not need favours from anyone, I only need an opportunity. I eat Nigeria’s wheat meal, listen to Nigerian music and play as Taribo West (former Nigeria central defender) on video games online. If I get a chance with Nigeria, I believe my versatility as a player will make me stand out.
Derik also believes he has what it takes to play for the senior team of the La Liga giants, Real Madrid.
“I would like to play in the Real Madrid first team someday, knowing if I did that maybe the chance would be there to play for Nigeria. But if I am not playing at the top-level week in, week out, I wouldn’t expect to receive a call from anyone because that would be daydreaming.
“The immediate plan now is to go out on loan elsewhere, because at this age I need stability and regular football to fulfill my dream. Training alongside big players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Modric, Sergio Ramos and Pepe gives you a taste of what you can be as a footballer. The hard truth is that there is no available shortcut to reaching that level and staying there. I need to work extremely hard wherever I go and play first team football regularly,” he concluded.
It remains to be seen if this relatively unknown quantity will receive a nod from the senior national team handlers in the nearest future.