William Troost-Ekong reveals row with Jose Peseiro that nearly crushed his AFCON 2023 dreams


The PAOK defender made his Nigeria debut in 2015 after earlier playing for the Netherlands at youth level

Super Eagles stand-in captain William Troost-Ekong has confessed that he nearly quit the national team weeks before the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations after a disagreement with coach Jose Peseiro, reports.

Troost-Ekong was one of Peseiro’s most reliable defenders when the Portuguese tactician was employed in 2022 to take charge of the Super Eagles.

But cracks were observed in the relationship between the two men when Peseiro snubbed Troost-Ekong for Nigeria’s two World Cup qualifiers against Lesotho and Zimbabwe in November.

Troost-Ekong has now confessed that he was ignored for those matches because he had a spat with Peseiro.

The former Watford defender revealed he considered quitting the national team after the incident.

Still, a few family and friends helped him rediscover the love that made him dump the Netherlands for Nigeria nine years ago.

“[It] resulted in us not actually speaking for a few months,” Troost-Ekong told CNN World Sport.

“That was the time where my pride and ego, I think maybe got the better of me. I thought about stopping.

“Thankfully, I’ve got a good group of people around me who took me out of it.

“[It] made me think about my younger self and, how much it meant and how proud I was to play my first game [for Nigeria].

“I deserved to give my younger self a better ending. So that was the thing that changed my mind … I think my career has always been a testament of not giving up.”

Troost-Ekong returned for the AFCON, and it turned out to be the best decision for the defender and the Super Eagles.

The former Udinese man delivered arguably his best performances in the green-and-white kit, helping Nigeria reach the final and winning a silver medal.

Troost-Ekong was also named the Most Valuable Player of the Tournament, becoming the first defender since Senegal’s Rigobert Song in 2002 to win the Best Player award at the AFCON.