Eleta Kingsley finally plays for Bangladesh

Nigeria-born Eleta Kingsley made his debut for Bangladesh in the FIFA friendly against Seychelles in Dhaka on 25 March 2023Tanvir Ahmed

Nigeria-born Eleta Kingsley’s dream of playing for Bangladesh finally came true on Saturday during Bangladesh’s FIFA friendly match against Seychelles at the Sylhet District Stadium in Dhaka on Saturday.

Eleta, who has been playing Bangladeshi clubs for around a decade, was subbed on in the second half, ending a long and arduous journey for the striker who has been trying to play for Bangladesh for many years.

In order to play for Bangladesh, Eleta had to abandon his Nigerian citizenship and become a citizen of Bangladesh.

Eleta Kingsley currently plays for Abahani Limited in the BPL but has played for many other clubs in Bangladesh
Prohtom Alo

While the entire world was indoors during the initial months of Covid-19, Eleta was trying to finalise the process of becoming a Bangladesh citizen, a lengthy bureaucratic process which began in Nigeria and ended in Bangladesh.

He finally became a Bangladesh citizen in March of 2021 and received his Bangladesh passport in June later that year.

But it took almost another two years for this Nigerian to make it to the national team. Despite regularly netting goals in Bangladesh Premier League, coaches kept ignoring him for the national team mainly due to his age, which had already crossed 30.

Eleta’s long and winding road to wearing the Bangladesh emblem finally ended as coach Javier Cabrera looked past the 33-year-old’s age and picked him in the squad for the FIFA friendly against Seychelles.

Cabrera didn’t pick him in XI initially. But after Bangladesh took a 1-0 lead in the first half courtesy of a header from Tariq Quazi, Cabrera decided to bring Eleta to the field as a substitute.

Eleta, who plays for current BPL champions Bashundhara Kings, lives in Dhaka with his Bangladeshi wife and their two children.