Promising SPAL central defender Abdulmalik Justin Owolabi-Belewu has committed his senior international future to Nigeria over England and Canada, where he resided growing up.
Born eighteen years ago at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, South East London, Greenwich Borough, Owolabi-Belewu is believed to be on the radar of the Nigerian Federation and junior national team coaches as he was invited to a Golden Eaglets training camp in 2019.
Owolabi-Belewu explained that he has opted to pledge his international allegiance to the Super Eagles because he draws inspiration from former Nigeria captain Jay-Jay Okocha and his nephew Alex Iwobi.
“I would like to represent Nigeria at the Men’s level because I want to make my parents proud by representing the country of their birthplace seeming as they have done so much for me to be where I’m at,” Owolabi-Belewu said to allnigeriasoccer.com.
“I also want to choose Nigeria because players like Okocha and Iwobi have inspired me as well as the fact that I’ve grown up based off Nigerian tradition, values and culture.
“However at the youth level I would like to try and represent England just to be tested in an environment against some of Europe’s best youngsters for example Noni Madueke, Teden Mengi, Sam Greenwood etc.
“As for the Nigeria U17 camp, I didn’t attend because I did not feel that I was ready.”
Owolabi-Belewu was linked with a plethora of English, German, French and Italian clubs including Chelsea, Sunderland, Crystal Palace, OGC Nice, AS Roma and Hertha Berlin but opted to sign his first professional contract with SPAL in the ongoing transfer window.
Explaining why he picked SPAL, Owolabi-Belewu stated : “For me as soon as I came to SPAL I knew it was a place I wanted to be.
“Everyone was so welcoming and friendly and when we stepped on the pitch I saw that they played a style of football that I like.
“The higher management and U19 staff have a lot of faith in me and see a lot of potential in me so that was definitely a confidence booster.
“The club has a very good track record of promoting youth players to the first team, there are currently six involved and soon to be more so the club has the pathway there, it’s just up to me to put in the work to go through it.
“Not to mention playing in Italy, one of the best countries to develop as a defender, was an opportunity I could not turn down,” Owolabi-Belewu said.
A left-footed center back, Owolabi-Belewu scored his first official goal for SPAL on his competitive debut for the U19s in their 1-1 draw with Genoa last weekend.