Super Eagles and CD Leganes of Spain defender Kenneth Omeruo is a patient bird. Signed on by English Premier League top club, Chelsea in 2012, the Abia-state indigene had to go undergo a lengthy seven year loan experience. That could task the mind of any footballer but Omeruo said he was able to remain on top in spite of the unsavoury personal trial with support coming from his immediate and extended families.
He said: “I have an amazing family. My wife is amazing and it’s been good because my family does not stress me. It’s been good to come from a family that understands me and supports me in prayers.
“They are my backbone and what keeps me going when I’m not playing and frustrated. They would just tell to just me to relax. My mum says that a lot. ‘Just relax’ and things will fall into the right places for you. I appreciate that a lot.”
For seven years while not been able to play in the Chelsea senior team, Omeruo was loaned out six times from ADO Den Haag in the Dutch League to Middlesbrough on to Turkey where he played for Kasimpasa, Alanyaspor, and back to Kasimpasa before moving on to Spain where he presently plays for Leganes in the La-liga.
“Though a lot was passing through my mind I remained focus and in all the clubs I went on loan and played active part in their achievement.”
Omeruo, in his loan year with Leganes played 31 matches with 30 starts and since getting a five-year permanent deal with the La-liga team, he has played nine times, scoring one goal.
He continued: “I would have loved to stay back in Turkey because I got regular play there too but I think the main difference is that Turkish league is not being shown on TV and this time I knew the Nations Cup was coming, and I knew there was a lot of competition in the national team as well.
“So I had to be in a league where I will be watched. A league where they won’t just say ‘you did well but it’s the Turkish Super Lig. And that was one of the reasons I made the decision to join Leganes and I have been happy since I came in. I didn’t miss many games.”
Though, elated about his new status at Leganes, he did not eschew bitterness towards the club that kept him away for seven years; Chelsea.
He said “If you see what I posted on my social handle you will know that I appreciated all I gained from Chelsea.”
The post read thus: ‘I have nothing but Love for this club. Chelsea made my dreams as a child to become a reality. Thank you for an amazing seven years. Thanks to all Chelsea fans for the love. I will never forget this club. But it’s time to move on and realise my full potential. Thank you, Chelsea.’
However, he said the 2013 Nations Cup winner with Super Eagles said he was full of hope on joining Chelsea at only 18.
“I had high hope at a young player when Chelsea signed me, but a shoulder injury that kept coming back did not make me play regularly. I was out for four months and because it was difficult getting a shirt at Chelsea I requested to be loaned out because I wanted to play more games to be eligible for World Cup invitation in 2014. That is how I moved to Middlesbrough where I played 33 games.”
Omeruo speaks more on his humble background and the coaches that influenced his career. Excerpts:
My past makes me feel humble and appreciative because I know a lot of people that we started together but some of them have given up, some did not make it this far. I’m appreciative in the aspect of the coaches who I have been opportune to play under. From coach John Ogbu at the U17; He did not know me but he took me in and he helped me become a confident and better player on the pitch. It is important for coaches to make their decision based on this.
Of course late Stephen Keshi is someone that I would forever be grateful to because when I went to the Nations Cup in 2013, I did not know I would even make the final selection but he gave me an opportunity even when I did not think I was ready. It turned out to be a great tournament for me. Lots of people other people also helped me tremendously and I give thanks to God for my achievements.
When I was invited, I actually thought I was going to fill in space and won’t make the final list. Going to camp, I was just playing and giving everything. The few games I played, I did good, I went into the Nations Cup not knowing whether I will play at all but I started the second game. I started as a centre back so it was different from the right back I had been playing in training and the coach just put me there. I went on to play every minute of Nigeria’s victorious AFCON 2013 campaign. The match against South Africa was good and I played confidence that is beyond my age. Keshi would call at the end of every match telling that I reminded him of his younger days. He said he wanted to make me play like him as Eagles libero.
Giving back to his roots
I have a football tournament that i do in Kado Village, in the outskirt of Abuja, where I grew up. I do it towards the end of the year and it is something that gladdens my heart. It is a place where I started playing football when i was a teen. We played the third edition last year and there are others things that I do which I would like to keep to myself. I love what we have been able to achieve though it and hope to do more, as much as I can to give back.
I have an amazing family. My wife is amazing and it’s been good because my family does not stress me. It’s been good to come from a family that understands me and supports me in prayers. They are my backbone and what keeps me going when I’m not playing and frustrated. They would just tell to just relax. My mum says that a lot. ‘Just relax’ and things will fall into the right places for you. I appreciate that a lot.