Rangers defender Leon Balogun has sent an emotion message to Super Eagles fans after their bid to reach this winter’s World Cup came to an end earlier this week, calling it his ‘darkest hour’ with the Nigerian national team.
Balogun, alongside Rangers teammates Joe Aribo and Calvin Bassey all started as a 1-1 draw with Ghana saw Nigerian knocked out on away goals, sparking shameful scenes after the final whistle as fans rioted inside the ground.
Taking to instagram, Balogun thanked fans for their support in the qualifying campaign as he encouraged them to get behind the team after their elimination from World Cup qualifying.
“Thank you to all my fellow Nigerians,” Balogun said.
“For the support you’ve shown us from afar, in front of your TV’s, in Kumasi, but especially in Abuja. In my 8 years as Super Eagle I have never seen so many hopeful and joyful faces supporting us, pushing us on relentlessly to reach our common goal and it was both, incredibly touching and overwhelming. Everybody tried, everybody wanted to qualify so bad and play at the World Cup 2022 – for the 1st, for another or one last time.
“The harder it is to accept that our best, individually as well as collectively, wasn’t good enough to make that happen – even more so given the rivalry. I will probably always remember this painful exit as my darkest hour with the national team.
“As players we understand how much of an impact football can have on the mood of the nation – therefore we share your disappointment, frustration and the pain. Please let’s not allow emotions over what is out of our control now to get in the way of what there is to achieve in the future.
“Players and coaches will come and go, but remember: you and your support will always be needed as vital part of the Super Eagles.
“Abeg Naija no vex, make WE move forward in Unity – The Super Eagles of Nigeria go soar again”
At 33, this was almost certain to be Balogun’s last attempt at making the World Cup but the Rangers ddefender still has plenty to do at club level.
With Rangers challenging on three fronts still this season, Balogun and his Ibrox teammates get a huge month underway on Sunday when they face Celtic in the Scottish Premiership.