- Ifeoma Dieke starred for Great Britain’s women in inaugural Olympic appearance
- Scottish centre-half was one of just two non-English players in the squad
- Dieke discusses the 2012 experience and which Scots might star in Tokyo
She was born in the US, earned a scholarship at Florida International University, played professionally in Chicago and Boston, and now coaches in Miami. But when the call came in 2004 to join up with the world’s most successful women’s national team, Ifeoma Dieke did the unthinkable. She turned down the USWNT.
Explaining the seemingly inexplicable begins with her first few words, uttered in a thick and unmistakable Scottish accent. Dieke goes on to make clear that, for all those American links – not to mention her Nigerian parentage – she feels “everything about her” is Scottish. That sense of belonging, to a country in which she grew up from the age of three, easily outweighed the status and success that would have doubtless have come with answering the USWNT’s call.
“I’ve no regrets about that. None at all,” Dieke told FIFA.com. “I can still remember that build-up to that US camp after being called up. Although I knew what a huge privilege it was – and all the opportunities it presented – I wasn’t at all excited. I kept asking myself why that was and eventually I realised it was because, although I was born in America, I just didn’t feel American.
“It just didn’t feel right; it didn’t tug at my heart-strings the way playing for Scotland always has. People thought I was mad at the time, and it took me a couple of days just to work up the courage to tell my coach that I wouldn’t be going. But I’ve honestly never regretted it for a second. It was a decision I made with my heart, for the right reasons, and I’m so proud of the international career I had.”