Bryan Idowu finally got his international chance on Tuesday and showed his quality with a sumptuous performance that was capped with a Nigeria goal in the 4-2 defeat of Argentina in Krasnodar.
It could have been different for the 25-year-old defender if he had gotten the chance to play for the country of his birth, Russia. But he was never considered good enough.
Born in St Petersburg to a Nigerian father and a mother who is of mixed Russia and Nigerian parentage, Idowu could have played for the Russian national team and in that way become their first black player.
His career could have been stalled after failing to make the promotion from the youth team of his hometown club, Zenit, due to ultras who kicked against the introduction of black players into the senior side. Despite that, Brazilian Hulk and Belgian Axel Witsel, two black players, were bought by the club.
He eventually moved to Amkar Perm where he has found playing time and become a key part of the squad that finished 10th on the 16-team table. At Amkar he is a teammate of a former Super Eagles midfielder Fegor Ogude.
Idowu’s overlooking by the Russian national team has become a blessing to the Nigeria senior team who have been looking for a versatile left fullback/wingback due to the inability of Elderson Echiejile to truly impress in the role. Idowu’s speed and anticipation led to the goal he scored against Argentina. He looked pretty much ready to take the big leap with Nigeria’s World Cup team.
While Nigeria has missed out on some key foreign-born young talents like Tammy Abraham, Jordon Ibe and Dominic Solanke in recent time, perhaps the unheralded coming of Idowu would prove to be the best coup at the end of the day.