Choosing England over Ghana a ‘natural progression’ for Nketiah

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FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football – Premier League – Arsenal v Fulham – Emirates Stadium, London, Britain – August 26, 2023 Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah celebrates scoring their second goal REUTERS/Tony Obrien/File Photo

(Reuters) – Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah chose to play for England over Ghana because it felt like a “natural progression” in his career, he said, adding he will make his senior debut for the Three Lions at the perfect time.

Nketiah has been courted by Ghana, whose current manager Chris Hughton confirmed last month that they had contacted the striker.

A call-up from England, however, was too hard to turn down, Nketiah said.

“It’s a really proud moment for me, my family and friends,” Nketiah told reporters Tuesday. “It has been quite the journey to get here – a lot of ups and downs.

“Once the call-up was there, an 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.”

He was eligible to play for Ghana since his parents are Ghanaian.

Nketiah, however, was a key player for England’s under-21 side and is their all-time leading goal-scorer with 16, and has cemented himself into Arsenal’s forward line, scoring two goals in their first four games.

“I’m a much better player than I was maybe two or three years ago,” he said at a press conference at St George’s Park, England’s training headquarters.

“I’m coming in at a good time and I’m in a good moment. I feel confident and feel ready. I know I’m still going to improve. I’m humble enough to know that I’m not the finished article.”

Nketiah’s family happened to be at his home when he received the call-up, he said.

“When I got the text it was surreal. I am usually a calm guy but I did lose a bit of composure for a second,” he said. “It was an amazing moment – all my family were really emotional. I have worked really hard to get up to this point so it was kind of nice to get that recognition. I don’t think I said much, I was just checking my phone to make sure it said ‘selected’.

“My parents were really emotional because they sacrificed a lot for me to get here,” he added. “It was just really nice to see that kind of happiness and pride on their faces.”

In Euro 2024 qualifying, England are the clear Group C leaders with four victories from four games. They face Ukraine in Wroclaw, Poland on Saturday before playing Scotland in a friendly on Tuesday at Hampden Park.

(Reporting by Lori Ewing; Editing by Toby Davis)