Eddie Nketiah explains why he opted to play for England ahead of Ghana

Arsenal striker, Eddie Nketiah, expressed his excitement about receiving his first-ever call-up to the England senior squad, describing it as a “particularly special” moment for him.

Nketiah, who previously held the record for goals scored and served as captain for the England Under-21s, had been eagerly awaiting a promotion to the senior team since he became ineligible for the U21s in 2021 due to age restrictions. Notably, he also opted not to represent Ghana.

Speaking from England’s training base at St George’s Park, Nketiah remarked, “I’ve been in this environment a few times before, but this time feels distinct – it carries an extra layer of significance.”

“I’m really happy to be here, proud to be here and looking forward to helping the team,” he said.

“You’re mixing with great players, obviously a great manager as well. So just that sense of pride to be here, to progress through the age groups is obviously a nice feeling and to get here is a nice step.”

The 24-year-old has had a promising start to the season, featuring in three of Arsenal’s four Premier League matches and scoring two goals. He believes that his experience with the under-21s and his strong performance with his club will be assets as he looks forward to potentially making his debut in either the Euro 2024 qualifier against Ukraine in Poland on Saturday or the friendly against Scotland in Glasgow next week.

“I am playing for a great club and a big club at Arsenal,” he said.

“These tough games will be a different and new experience but it is about doing as well as I can, showing my quality this week, and hopefully getting an opportunity to go out there and help the team.

“I am a much better player now than I was two or three years ago. It is really nice and I am coming in at a good time and a good moment.

“I feel confident and I feel ready to continue to improve – that is the thing, I am still young and humble enough to know I am not the finished article.

“Coming away with these players and being able to show my quality and learn from them is really good for me.”

Despite being eligible to represent Ghana, the country of his parents’ birth, Nketiah found it “extremely difficult” to decline the call-up from England manager Gareth Southgate, given his long-standing involvement in the English football development pathway.

“Both sides were always an option,” Nketiah added.

“Naturally coming through the academy at England you have the aspiration to play here – once the call-up was there and the offer was on the table it was really hard to turn down, and something which I felt was a natural progression for myself at this stage.”

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