Wednesday, 23 April 2014
Everton's Victor Anichebe Puts Nigeria Career On Hold-BBC Sport
Everton striker Victor Anichebe has put his international career with Nigeria on hold so he can "manage his body accordingly".
Lagos-born Anichebe, 25, has told BBC Sport that for the time being, he does not want to be considered for Nigeria.
He had been tipped for a return to the Nigeria squad for June's World Cup qualifiers and Confederations Cup, replacing the injured Emmanuel Emenike.
"The best thing for me at the moment is to focus on club football," he said.
Anichebe has been plagued by injuries over the past few years, including a groin problem on his last appearance for Nigeria in a 2-0 win over Madagascar in 2011.
He insists he is proud to play for his country, but for the moment his Premier League side Everton are his priority.
"Without club football there is no international football and everyone at Everton was with me every step of the way during my injuries and rehabilitation and so I owe it to the club to manage myself correctly," he explained.
"I didn't feel that the Nigerian federation was there for me then in the same manner, which was especially disappointing given that I got the injury representing my country.
"But I don't blame anyone for this nor do I have any issues with anybody from the NFF or Stephen Keshi our coach.
"He has done a fantastic job and is building a team that Nigerians can be proud of."
A former England youth international, Anichebe switched allegiance and played his first game for Nigeria in March 2008.
He scored on his debut in a 2-0 win over South Africa to help them reach the 2008 Olympics and was then part of the squad that went on to win silver in Beijing.
Despite the recent setbacks and decision to put club over country, Anichebe has no regret to have chosen Nigeria over England.
"A lot of people ask me if I was sad that I wasn't part of the Nations Cup winning team but I couldn't have been happier because it brought so much happiness to Nigerians especially after there has been so much tragedy," he said.
"I know football cannot take away some of the pain it has caused but it was good for the country.
"I am just like the 170 million Nigerians out there, I am a fan obviously as well as a player.
"If I had gone would I be playing for my club at the level I am now? Perhaps not, so it worked out well for both sides.
"The time is just not right for me to resume my international career as of yet but I would certainly love to represent my country in the none-too-distant future."