‘Playing for Nigeria is a big thing for me’ – Watford’s Troost-Ekong

William Troost-Ekong - Nigeria
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The Dutch-born defender is proud of his decision to commit his international future to the three-time African champions

Watford centre-back William Troost-Ekong is relishing his experiences with Nigeria on the international stage.

The 27-year-old, born to a Nigerian father and a Dutch mother in the Netherlands, decided to serve his father's land in 2015 despite playing for the Dutch youth teams earlier in his career.

Troost-Ekong made his Nigeria debut against Chad in 2015 and is in contention to make his 40th Super Eagles appearance against Algeria on Friday.

Ahead of the international friendly fixture in Austria, he disclosed how his decision made his family proud and how he is developing his leadership traits in Gernot Rohr's team.

“Even my Dutch family are really proud. It means a lot to them for me to represent such a big nation. It's massive,” Troost-Ekong told Watford's website.

“Hopefully I get to do it some more. The last few games, yeah [I've been made captain]. I've always been quite vocal and a leader in the team. We've had some great captains in [Ahmed] Musa, who is still officially our captain, and John Obi Mikel before that. I always try and learn from these guys and push the team in the right direction.

“It's a really big thing [for me]. I started my international career with the Dutch younger teams, but as soon as I heard about Nigeria wanting me to play for them, I jumped at the chance.

“I've never looked back. It was a special moment to play for Nigeria as I know how much it means to the people. I feel it's my way of giving back to a country that has given me so much.”

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Troost-Ekong has played at the Olympics, World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations in the last five years for the West African country.

He picks the Super Eagles friendly encounter against England at Wembley Stadium ahead of the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia as a standout moment for him because it was in a city where he developed his game with Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur.

“There have been lots of highs, especially in the last five years,” he said. “That was a nice moment. That kind of felt [coming] full circle. That was in preparation for the World Cup and was special as my family was there. Playing at Wembley was a special moment in my career and hopefully, I get to play there again.”