Udinese defender William Troost-Ekong says switching allegiance from the Netherlands to Nigeria was his best career decision ever.
The 25-year-old, who was born in the Netherlands to a Dutch mother and Nigerian father, represented the European nation at youth level before switching allegiance to Nigeria.
After winning an Olympic football bronze medal in 2016 and playing at the 2018 World Cup, the centre-back is looking forward to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations with the Super Eagles.
“I think the decision to play for Nigeria has to be the best ever for me,” Troost-Ekong told BBC Sport.
“We have some amazing and talented players in Nigeria and to get a chance to play for a great country like ours is an honour and immense privilege.
“You cannot force anyone to choose Nigeria, you must love the country and be committed to it or you don’t brother.
“Personally, I will be grateful for the opportunity and everything Nigeria has given to my career.
“I’ve fulfilled some dreams by playing at the Olympic Games and on the biggest stage [World Cup] in Russia, now I look forward to living another dream by playing at the Africa Cup of Nations.
“I couldn’t see too far ahead but I couldn’t have imagined all of that is happening in my career now at a young age.
“But here I am and it’s thanks to hard work, the coaches, our fans and my teammates who have all been supportive.”
Troost-Ekong signed a four-year deal with Udinese in August from Turkish side Bursaspor, where he scored three goals in 32 games.
He started his career with the Tottenham Hotspur youth side in England before returning to the Netherlands to join Groningen in 2013 and played on loan at Dordrecht, before a switch to Belgian club Gent in 2015.
He had a successful season-long loan stint at Norway’s FK Haugesund in the 2015/16 season, followed by eight appearances for Gent before his quest for regular first-team football led to a move to Turkey in summer 2017.
Troost-Ekong made his debut for the three-time African champions in a match against Chad on 13 June 2015 and played all three matches for Nigeria at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Now established player for the country, he won Olympic football bronze with Nigeria at the 2016 Rio Games and has scored once in 30 appearances for the Super Eagles.