Seattle striker Obafemi Martins open to Nigeria return

By Oluwashina OkelejiBBC Sport, Lagos
Obafemi Martins
Obafemi Martins

Seattle Sounders striker Obafemi Martins has not ruled out a Nigeria return, but admitted he is focusing on his MLS club career.

Martins was called up just once in the last three years, against Kenya, in a 2014 World Cup qualifier.

Despite being his country's most in-form striker last year, alongside Ikechukwu Uche, he was omitted from the Brazil 2014 squad

But Martins is not closing the door on the Super Eagles just yet.

"Things have changed at home and if the new coach [Sunday Oliseh] said he wants me to play for Nigeria again, I'd jump at the chance," Martins told BBC Sport.

"The opportunity to represent a country of over 170 million people doesn't come often and I will never turn it down.

"But right now I'm just focusing on giving my best to Seattle Sounders and take it from there."

It was widely reported in the Nigerian media that Martins - who scored 18 goals in 39 internationals for Nigeria - had retired from international football after falling out with ex-coach Stephen Keshi.

Obafemi Martins (R) playing for Nigeria in a World Cup qualifier against Kenya in March 2013
Martins last played for Nigeria in a World Cup qualifier against Kenya in March 2013

But the 30-year-old - who made a scoring debut for Nigeria in May 2004 against the Republic of Ireland - has no desire to hang up his international boots and believes he still has a lot to offer the three-time African champions.

"I am a Nigerian and playing for my country is always an honour," he said.

" 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.

"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."

Martins, who began his career in Nigeria with FC Ebedei, has played in Italy, England, Russia and Spain, as well as the US.

After scoring 46 goals in 125 matches for Inter Milan, he joined the African exodus to the English Premier League, signing for Newcastle in 2006.

Despite scoring 35 goals in three seasons, the Nigerian's time on Tyneside was not a roaring success and he switched to German outfit VFL Wolfsburg in July 2009.

After struggling to settle down in the German top flight, he quit after just one season and headed to Rubin Kazan in Russia in a deal worth £7m ($11m).

But his time at Rubin was blighted by injuries and loss of form, forcing him to switch to Spanish side Levante. He scored nine goals in 29 appearances for Levante before moving to the MLS in March 2012.

Since moving to Seattle, he has scored 35 goals and made 20 assists in 71 appearances for the club.

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