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Last Updated: Monday, 6 September, 2004, 15:50 GMT 16:50 UK
Cole happy to spurn Nigeria
England under-21 international Carlton Cole

Carlton Cole has insisted he has no regrets about rejecting the chance to play for Nigeria as he looks to produce another impressive performance for England under-21's.

The 20-year-old scored against Austria in a European Championship qualifier on Friday and hopes to boost his chances of becoming part of the senior squad when England face Poland on Tuesday.

Cole was invited to link up with the full Nigerian squad last season - with the chance to play alongside his hero Nwankwo Kanu - but turned down the opportunity on the advice of Chelsea.

The 20-year-old, whose father is Nigerian, is glad he heeded the advice of his Premiership club and has made a big impression with England under-21s after making a fine start to the season on loan to Aston Villa.

Cole netted twice against the Ukraine earlier this season and followed that up with a man-of-the-match display in the 2-0 win over Austria in Krems.

My interest in African football is only occasional
Nigerian-born Carlton Cole

"I was called up by Nigeria last season but Chelsea told me that it was in my best interests not to go," Cole said.

"They said it would affect my England future and interfere with things at club level as well. As a young player I was advised not to take up the Nigeria offer and I supported that.

"They want players with Nigerian links who have played in the Premiership but I was born in England and consider that to be my country so I want to play for them.

"I could have been playing alongside Kanu whom I know through his heart foundation and have been to a number of functions in connection with that.

"I look up to him. He's one of the best players in the world and if I could achieve half as much as he has done, then I would be very happy."

Cole admitted: "My father is Nigerian and my mother comes from Sierra Leone but I've never been a follower of Nigeria and my interest in African football is only occasional.

"I was always going to take the England route if the chance offered itself.

Cole was eligible to play for Nigeria under Fifa rules which state that a footballer capped at junior level for one country can represent another as long as he possesses dual nationality.




SEE ALSO
Nigeria chase Cole
20 May 04  |  African



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