In the same way as other footballers with double nationality, Ajax’s star striker Sébastien Haller had a tough decision to make.
Born in a southern Parisian suburb, to a French dad and Ivorian mother, Haller had represented France during the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in 2011.
However, in November 2020, ahead of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying rounds, the Ivory Coast came knocking at the door of the striker to play for them.
Sébastien Haller was hanging tight for a call up in France’s senior national team, but that didn’t happen. So he chose to play for the Ivory Coast and says wearing the Elephants’ Jersey is an honor.
Notwithstanding, following his transient goal scoring ascend at Ajax in the course of the last two seasons, some doubted whether he had any second thoughts about his choice.
Haller will now pass up playing for France but the 27 year-old player made sense of that choosing which country to represent was “a really personal decision” and is “more complicated than it seems to be.”
As per him, it’s not only about where he was born, but how he feels. As far as he might be concerned, the two nations were truly significant for him, to be part of his culture
“For me it’s both countries, and it’s like you need to choose a part of you … Also we need to realize that it’s only about football, and I was at a time of my life that I wanted to take a choice and the choice from Ivory Coast seemed to me the most appropriate,” the striker added.
In September 2020, only one month preceding Haller’s Ivorian call-up, the FIFA Congress that year casted a ballot to switch the standards up qualification for national teams.
This implied players were now not attached to a national team in light of single youth appearances and could switch national teams if they were qualified.
Sébastien Haller made his Ivorian debut in an AFCON qualifying match against Madagascar in November 2020, scoring the game-winning goal in a 2-1 triumph.
During the competition in Cameroon, the Ajax striker collaborated with Arsenal’s Nicolas Pépé and PSV Eindhoven’s Ibrahim Sangaré as Ivory Coast’s top goal scorers.
Unfortunately, the Elephants of Ivory Coast were booted out of the competition by Egypt in penalty shootouts during the round of 16.
Despite the fact that Ivory Coast lost the bill to qualify for the 2022 Qatar World Cup in the wake of losing 1-0 to Cameroon, Haller thinks his country, alongside other African countries, are drawing nearer to winning a significant competition.
Haller has scored 20 goals in 24 games for Ajax in the league and has become the quickest player to reach 11 goals in Champions League history.
He is also the second highest goal scorer in this year’s competition, only recently beaten out of the top spot by Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski.
Nonetheless, the rise of his goalscoring ability didn’t occur out of the blue.