Folarin Balogun is set to represent the United States after his change of allegiance from England was approved by FIFA.
The 21-year-old striker, who played for the United States at Under-18 level before moving to England, can represent either country as he was born in Brooklyn, New York, but has moved to London at the age of two. He is also eligible to represent Nigeria.
FIFA rules allow players to change national eligibility before making a competitive senior appearance at international level.
Balogun spent the 2022-23 campaign on loan at Reims from Arsenal, scoring 19 times in 34 league appearances.
“My decision to represent the United States came with my family,” he said. “We decided that it would be the right thing for me, to represent the country in which I was born.
“In the end it became a no-brainer, but for sure it’s just something I wanted to do and I feel like I’m at home here.
“Representing the United States means a lot, more than people would know. I am very proud and honored to have this opportunity, and I want to give everything for our team to succeed.
USMNT Head Coach Anthony Hudson added, “We are thrilled that Folarin has chosen to represent the United States.
“Not only is he an extremely talented player, but he is also a good man who will add value to our national team on and off the pitch at a time when the team continues to improve.
“It’s clear he values his American roots and we can’t wait for him to come back and be a part of the team.”
Balogun was called up by England Under-21s for the March fixtures against France and Germany but pulled out with a hamstring injury.
He traveled to Orlando, where the United States were training, during the international window. Hudson admitted “discussions” had taken place with the striker during the March international break, adding it was “an opportunity to share on our programme”.
Folarin Balogun’s Intriguing Journey to Orlando: A Complete Timeline
Speaking after announcing his squad for the March internationals, England manager Gareth Southgate said Balogun would have to be patient regarding a call up to the senior squad.
“It’s up to the player to weigh where his heart feels,” Southgate said. “Is he willing to wait a bit for an opportunity if he supports himself and feels he can make his way into our team? Because everyone who has followed us knows that we are going to give young players a chance.
“So we can’t go and give someone first-team calls just because we don’t want them to go somewhere else.”
Balogun made four appearances for the United Under-18s in 2018 alongside current USMNT players Taylor Booth, Aidan Morris and Bryan Reynolds before representing England at various youth levels.
The United States will be next in action on June 16 when they face Mexico in the CONCACAF Nations League. The CONCACAF Gold Cup, which takes place in the United States, runs from June 24 to July 16.
What Folarin Balogun’s escape means for his international future
(Photo: Getty Images)