Rangers defender Leon Balogun has blasted back at his international critics after securing redemption following his Nigeria horror show.
The centre-back made a crucial blunder that saw the lowly Central African Republic defeat the Super Eagles, leaving their hopes of qualifying for World Cup 2022 in jeopardy.
That result, against a team, ranked 124 in the world, caused uproar in Nigeria and piled on the pressure for the ‘away’ game – played in Cameroon – against the same opponents.
But the Rangers man was a key figure as he bagged the opening goal of the game, with Serie A top-scorer Victor Osimhen securing a 2-0 win.
And speaking to ESPN after the match, Balogun took the time to respond to criticism of the team.
He said: “You’ve seen me play for a few years now.
“And you know that when I step onto the pitch I always give 100 per cent and I am always passionate.
“Whether I am having a good performance or a bad performance, you can never actually criticise me for not trying. That is what I always give, that is the least I can do.
“If it (the World Cup) is important for you as a fan who is not on the pitch, but who is dreaming of seeing us play there, what do you think it means for us who are involved on the pitch.
“You get the chance to play and it gets stolen away from you. So you can imagine your pain (as a fan) is the pain we feel, but our pain is your pain times a hundred probably.
“You are probably still going to get opportunities to go to the World Cup but we are going to be sidelined and watch it on TV, and that’s what hurts. So we understand.”