Super Eagles midfielder, Ogenyi Onazi, says he’s truly living his dream life in the cosy Italian city of Parma.
Speaking to The Nation Sports & Style recently, the Lazio FC midfield maestro reflected on his career and life in the ancient city and noted that he’s enjoying every bit of life in the ‘beautiful city’.
Hear him: “When I got to Lazio I was put in Team B, so I had to work very hard in training and on the pitch to achieve lots of strength and stability in the team. I was desperate for success and everybody in the team knew. I was quite young at that time and knew that to command regular shirt would be tough. I knew the only way to achieve my dream of first team shirt was to be committed and dedicated. So when I got the opportunity I was able to justify the first team shirt. I was born to play and be great. I love the club and the cosy life in Lazio. The city is also beautiful. The fans and the management of the club are fantastic and I have never regretted my life in the team because I am already living my dream.”
Onazi, for many that do not know him too well, is a ‘promised child’.
Until recently when he became a household name being sought by Eagles handler, Stephen Keshi, to hold his midfield alongside Mikel Obi, Onazi was a youngster in the colours of My People FC; a youth team put together by televangelist TB Joshua.
While Onazi was a key player in Nigeria’s recent Africa Cup of Nations’ victory, this was not the first time that the 20-year-old has been brought to public attention. In fact, few players have been raised and developed with such expectation and anticipation as Onazi. His progress has long been a subtle narrative for Nigerians.
Onazi and his compatriot, Sani Emmanuel, were selected for the Nigerian U17 team before long and soon earned moves to Europe, and to Italian giants, Lazio.
Since the transfer, Onazi has flourished, and at the time of writing this piece has taken his game to the national level. Onazi, who has identified Chelsea as an ideal future home, speaks on other issues. Excerpts:
Flying high with EaglesI will like to say I have been so fortunate to maintain my regularity in the national team. It was not that I am perfect in commanding regular shirts but I think God has been so helpful to me not only in Super Eagles but in my career generally. I came into the national team with passion and visions and I thank God my dreams are perfectly coming through.
Patience in careerMy career generally has something to do with time. I endured a lot with prayer and determination to get to this level of my career. It took me lots of patience because I have believed in God’s time, which is the best. During my endurance, I tried as much to learn a lot of things in the game and also held my determination to be a better player. So I would like to say, the awaited time of God is paving ways to my success at the moment.
Afcon gloryI was born to be a champion. I will forever be a living champion because I have been ordained to live, conquer and be successful. I went to South Africa with a huge confidence. But I never disclosed it to anybody. The game of football is about one philosophy; you must not doubt your mind, the moment you doubt your faith, it will definitely shake off. I went to the tournament with big faith of winning. Even when critics started kicking against the team, my faith was intact. I had that belief that Eagles would conquer in South Africa and it became stronger when we beat Cote’d’ Ivoire. I see the Ivoirians as the tournament’s main threat to the Super Eagles and we handled the game well. That was when our critics started believing that we could go all the way to win the trophy.
God-madeWhen you work in God’s directions and obey his commandment, you are bound for greatness. I am God-made because I dedicate everything I have to him because he has been wonderful to me at every point of my career. The first thing I do on waking up is to praise his name before any other thing. And I always see that effect in my daily activities because I have put him before anything.
Making waves in Lazio
When I got to Lazio I was put in Team B, so I had to work very hard in training and on the pitch to achieve lots of strength and stability in the team. I was desperate for success and everybody in the team knew that. I was quite young at that time and knew that to command a regular shirt would be tough. I knew the only way to achieve my dream of first team shirt was to be committed and dedicated. So when I got the opportunity I was able to justify the first team shirt.
I was born to play and be great. I love the club and the cosy life in Lazio. The city is also beautiful. The fans and the management of the club are fantastic and I have never regretted my life in the team because I am already living my dream.
Onazi, the midfielderI improve with every action tasted in Lazio and that is the magic of my game. I work hard to play better than my last game. I don’t believe I can’t do anything my mates are doing. I think it is a general thing in a footballer’s career; the more you play, the better you become intelligently. Consistency has really paid off for me because I find joy mostly on the pitch especially when I am doing my job well. However, I am not yet there because there are many great footballers in the world today, that is why I am not resting on my oars. I am taking my game higher, higher and higher every day. As a midfielder, you must be dynamic in your style of play and let your team mates feel your impact either in defending or offence; so I am putting lots of creativity into my games.
PositivityI love living a positive life even in the world of negativity. I am always positive.
Off the pitchI play snooker to unwind. I can never get tired of it. It is another great game that I love with a passion. I play the game well and my teammates know I’m really good at it.