The striker was born in New York to Nigerian parents but spent most of his childhood in England, making him eligible for all three national teams. Though he represented the Three Lions in youth competitions while rising through Arsenal’s academy, he has now had a change of heart.
Balogun made headlines during the March international window when he was originally called up to England’s Under-21 team, before dropping out due to injury and traveling to Florida to train independently. USMNT interim manager Anthony Hudson later confirmed he held talks with Balogun in Florida in a bid to convince the player to switch international allegiances.
“As I’ve said before, we’ve had dialogue. We’ve spoken. He’s out here having a bit of a break and then some training, and we’ve had some discussions,” Hudson said in March.
“I think it’s been good because it’s been an opportunity for us just to share about our program and who we are and what we do and that’s it. I hope we get the chance to speak to him again. It’s been good and I know a few of the guys have spoken to him as well.”
And now, the move is official.
“Let’s make history,” posted Balogun to Twitter with a picture of the US men’s national team logo and video confirming his switch attached.
Balogun gained international attention for his involvement with Arsenal’s youth team and Middlesbrough. He has since impressed while on loan in France with Reims, scoring 20 goals in 36 matches in all competitions.
His efforts impressed England U21 manager Lee Carsley, who insisted that Balogun gave no indication of a potential change.
“You can’t twist someone’s arm to play for England,” Carsley said this week. “You know we can only make him feel as welcome as we can. We rate him highly. We’ve supported him when things weren’t great. We called him into the 21s when he was playing for Arsenal’s Under-23s because I knew what potential he had.”
His decision to represent the United States comes just five weeks before he was set to join England U21s at the European Championship hosted by Romania and Georgia. Now, he’s likely to join the USMNT in their summer CONCACAF tournaments that include the Nations League semi-finals and 2023 Gold Cup.