clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Obafemi Martins hasn't retired from international soccer, after all

The out-of-favor Nigerian striker says he's open to future international callups.

Jennifer Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Obafemi Martins hasn't suited up for his country since a World Cup qualifier in 2013, and multiple snubs by former Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi made it look like the striker's time with the Super Eagles was at an end. But Martins told BBC Sport that his outsider status hasn't turned him off from playing for Nigeria.

"I never announced my retirement, as wrongly reported. I was a bit disappointed to be treated like a Nigeria outcast but it was not enough to push me into an early retirement," he told the BBC. "I know if I have a good, successful season with Sounders and Nigeria come calling, fair enough. If they don't, then hopefully I'll have something big to celebrate in Major League Soccer."

Since debuting in 2004, Martins has 39 caps and 18 goals for his home country, but only two appearances since the 2010 World Cup. Despite voicing a similar desire last year to make his way back into the Nigeria team picture, then-coach Keshi didn't mince any words in saying his available roster spots at forward would be given to "younger players."

But Keshi was fired in July for breaching his contract, and his replacement Sunday Oliseh was announced a few weeks later. Oliseh is a former midfielder and captain of the Nigerian team whose international career didn't overlap with Martins'. The new coach hasn't given any indication that he'll give the 30-year-old a fresh look, but Oba is making it clear he would "jump at the chance" if called.

"The opportunity to represent a country of over 170 million people doesn't come often and I will never turn it down," he says, with the standard caveat that he is currently focused on helping the Sounders as much as he can.

A return to favor for Nigeria would be vindicating for Martins, although having one more player getting international call-ups could be a complication in Seattle Sounders FC's struggling season. Martins has already missed more than half the season with various injuries and hasn't played since June 17, although he is expected back soon. Despite all the missed time, Martins is still tied for the team lead with seven goals to go along with four assists. The 2017 African Cup qualifying continues in early September for Nigeria.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Sounder At Heart Weekly Roundup newsletter!

A twice weekly roundup of Seattle Sounders and OL Reign news from Sounder at Heart