Former England and Tottenham Hotspur defender Steven Caulker 29 has decided to switch his international allegiance to Sierra Leone ahead of next year’s Africa Cup of Nations.

The 29-year-old centre-back currently plays for Turkish Super Lig club Gaziantep, having enjoyed a resurgence since his move to Turkey in 2019, when he signed for Alanyaspor Caulker earned a solitary cap for England nine years ago in a friendly game against Sweden but he’s still eligible to represent Sierra Leone through his grandfather William after being approached by Carlton Cole on behalf of their Sierra Leone Football Association.

The defender is one of the players on Sierra Leone radar ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

He is also eligible to represent Scotland through his grandmother Jessie but has made it clear he will submit a request for change of allegiance to FIFA in order to play for Sierra Leone, where he regularly visits.

Speaking to the Athletic, Caulker said: “It is a country that is close to my heart, and somewhere I’ve always been made to feel welcome, visiting my grandfather’s village was an incredible, humbling experience”.

Caulker has confirmed that the Sierra Leone Football Association reached out through Carlton [Cole], whose mother is from Sierra Leone.

“Representing Sierra Leone would be something I can be proud of when I look back over my career. I’ll have to earn my place in the team, but it’s an exciting prospect and something I can’t wait to be a part of. They’re in a growing process and have aspirations to qualify for the World Cup. For me, this is an unbelievable opportunity and more than just playing football.