Zimbabwe and England in tug-of-war for Arsenal star

Reiss Nelson

LONDON – Zimbabwe team manager Wellington Mupandare says they haven’t given up on convincing Reiss Nelson to play for them, but admits they have a lot of convincing to do.

Speaking to Goal about Nelson and 19-year-old Tristan Nydam of Ipswich Town, Mupandare revealed that Zimbabwe are desperate to get the pair to switch allegiances and play for them instead.

“Obviously, there is plenty we need to do to convince Reiss Nelson and Nydam,” Mupandare said. “We really need them and we will do our best to get them.”

This isn’t the first time the manager has spoken out on the subject of Nelson’s national future. Last year, he spoke to KweséESPN and made a very similar statement.

“Yes, we are interested in Nelson but we are still trying to establish contact with him, so I can’t say much at the moment,” Mupandare said at the time. “We know that the player is highly rated in England and it will be difficult, but we will try our best.”

Nelson was born and raised in England, with an English mother, but his father is from Zimbabwe, which makes him eligible for their national team. We’ve already seen Alex Iwobi make the decision to play for Nigeria after initially playing for the England youth teams, so it’s always possible that Nelson will follow a similar path.

However, it seems much more likely the 19-year-old will choose to play for England. He told the BBC’s David Ornstein that playing the Three Lions in the senior side would be “a dream come true” and “a massive achievement”. He certainly seemed delighted to be involved for the u21s recently, scoring twice and assisting once in his first four games.

Whichever national side he does or doesn’t end up in, let’s hope Nelson continues to play his club football with Arsenal from next season onwards.