Hibs defender Efe Ambrose eyeing World Cup Finals call

Hibs defender Efe Ambrose has won 51 caps for his country
Hibs defender Efe Ambrose has won 51 caps for his country
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Hibs defender Efe Ambrose has revealed he still hopes to play for Nigeria at next summer’s World Cup finals in Russia after resurrecting his career at Easter Road.

Ambrose has 51 caps for his country, winning the Africa Cup of Nations in 2013 and playing in the last World Cup finals in Brazil when the Super Eagles were knocked out by France at the last-16 stage.

However, his last appearance came against Egypt 20 months ago as he fell out of favour at Celtic before making a move to Edinburgh on loan last season to help Neil Lennon’s side win the Championship title and promotion to the top flight after an absence of three years.

The 28-year-old made his switch to the Capital permanent in the summer, signing a two-year deal and, according to Lennon, who signed him for the Hoops from Israeli side Ashdod, he is now back to his best, forming a formidable partnership in central defence with Paul Hanlon in recent weeks and culminating in Hibs clocking up three successive clean sheets as they defeated Hearts, Motherwell and Kilmarnock to move into third place in the table.

Describing his move to Hibs as “a blessing in disguise”, Ambrose admitted an international recall was the furthest thing from his mind as he languished on the sidelines at Celtic Park. But now with Nigeria having become the first African nation to qualify for Russia 2018, he is hoping the fact he is playing top-flight football in Scotland will grab the attention of their German head coach Gernot Rohr.

He said: “I was ruled out of active football for eight months and staging a comeback with the Super Eagles was the least on my mind. Life was difficult in that time not playing football. I had offers from other UK clubs but I was waiting for the right one to come. It was that bad I could not get a work permit to join Blackburn when the offer came. Then Neil Lennon put a call straight to me that he would like me to join him at Hibs. He told me that coming to Hibs would help me resurrect my career. I never knew it was a blessing in disguise, winning the Championship trophy and then returning to the top division.

“I have always loved to play for my country and that has not changed. All that matters is the success of the team irrespective of who plays and who doesn’t. I will keep working hard and hope my opportunity comes.”