After initially rumoured to have agreed to star for the Super Eagles, Bournemouth midfielder Philip Billing , said he never had Nigeria on his mind. Nigeria senior national team manager, Gernot Rohr had however accused Billing and his agent of using the three-times African champion as a bait to get Denmark national team call-up
The Franco-German has explained what transpired between him and 23-year-old Phillip Billing, who recently quashed a report linking him to Nigeria.
Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr has stated he would never beg any player to play for the national team, and suggested Bournemouth midfielder used him to get the attention of the Danish national team manager.
Billing was born to a Nigerian father and Danish mother and has represented the European country’s youth team, but is still eligible to feature for the Super Eagles having not played for Denmark at senior level.
Last month, the forward quashed a report making rounds that he had agreed to pledge his allegiance to Nigeria, stating he felt more like a Dane and revealed he has told Rohr of his intention to play for the Danish team.
The Franco-German tactician, however, explained how Billing’s agent called him to explain his client was interested in playing for Nigeria and he did a follow-up by calling the player.
“Billing’s agent called me and he said that he is interested to come to Nigeria because he is not playing so much in Denmark,” Rohr told ESPN.
“So he wanted me to call Billing. I said I don’t have his number, so he gave me his number. When I called Billing he asked me some questions about the Nigerian team.
“And he said, ‘I am very, very interested to come with you, but give me some time. I think the agent is using this interest to give him more importance or more chances to play in Denmark.
“We never beg anybody. But if they want to come, if they are good players, yes. Some players sometimes want to come but we have already better players in these positions.”
Billing has rejected the chance to represent Nigeria in favour of the country of his birth, Denmark, after a second approach from Rohr.
Billing, 23, was snapped up by the Cherries in a £15-million transfer after he suffered relegation with Huddersfield at the end of the 2018/19 season.
However, in his third season in the English top-flight, the technically gifted central midfielder has developed into an established performer under manager Eddie Howe.
As a result, Rohr has come knocking for the Super Eagles for a second occasion, with Billing yet to make his senior national team debut despite earning a maiden call-up in March last year.
But the powerful midfielder claims it would be awkward for him to turn his back on Kasper Hjulmand’s side to represent the country of his fathers’ birth.
“I saw the last time people started to speculate that I didn’t mind playing for Denmark and blah, blah, blah,” he told Danish news outlet BT.
“It would be strange to stand up for Nigeria when I feel 100 per cent Danish. Of course, I have Nigerian roots and am half Nigerian, but I was raised and born in Denmark.
“I have a Danish mother, Danish little brother and Danish little sister and a Nigerian father. But this is Denmark I want to stand for. That’s my big dream.
“I’ve talked to the coach, but I know where I want to play. I want to play for Denmark, so it is no longer than that.
“He (Rohr) just said he really wanted me to play for Nigeria because the upcoming World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations would be played soon. I made it pretty clear to him that I wanted to play for Denmark. That’s my big dream.”
Billing has featured 29 times for the South Coast outfit this season, scoring three goals and registering a solitary assist.
Besides Ola Aina, Leon Balogun and Alex Iwobi, who have switched allegiances to play for the Super Eagles in the past, Heracles Almelo striker Cyriel Dessers and Koln defender Kingsley Ehizibue are two other players who have shown their interest in featuring for the West Africans.
The pair were part of the Nigeria squad scheduled to take on Sierra Leone in March in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier before the game was suspended due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus.
Rohr is also hoping Queens Park Rangers midfielder Eberechi Eze, who has been in top form in the Championship this season, will make a decision to play for the Super Eagles soon.
“We hope Eze will come but you know there is a process to follow. If they play already for the youth team in England or other countries, there is a process, write a letter, go to the FIFA commission, and so on,” Rohr added.