Star Check

Nigeria’s next big talent, Hogan Ukpa

Hogan Ukpa
photo credit: nsikakabasi Akpan

In our Star Check, we spoke to FK Liepaja’s attacking midfielder Hogan Ukpa. he joined the Latvian side in January and speaks of his desire to play for Nigeria and Liverpool while naming Enyimba his best NPFL side.

How would you describe the COVID-19 pandemic in Latvia?
I would say, we had cases here but Latvia is one of the few countries who did enough to contain and manage the early cases thereby stopping it from spreading.

Was there any lockdown in Latvia, if yes, how long did it last?
Yes, there was lockdown for just a few weeks.

Did the COVID-19 pandemic affect football leagues in Latvia?
We were yet to commence the season when the pandemic struck, So we halted Pre-season activities until normalcy returned. We just started the season here.

Briefly tell us about your move to Latvia?
I was spotted by an agent in 2018 and he picked interest in me and so once an opportunity for trials presented itself in December, he sent me an invitation and that’s how I was successful and signed for FK Liepaja in January.

How many games have you played since arriving in Latvia?
I have played loads of pre-season friendly games since arriving here, the league just commenced.

Hogan Ukpa
Hogan Ukpa (Photo Credit: Nsikakabasi Akpan)

What has been your biggest challenge since arriving in Latvia?
I would say the biggest challenge was the weather, it was very cold and difficult to train and play matches in that condition but I managed to cope, the language was different but it did not surpass the weather, another challenge is that as a young player you have to play to impress the other big players and management that you can play at the top-level.

Which team is your favorite in the NPFL?
Enyimba International FC, I like their style a lot.

What are your targets for the next four years?
I hope to understand the system in Europe and possibly play for the national team starting from the Under 20, I have this dream of playing for Liverpool. That is my dream team.

Any message for the youngsters back home who would like to play football professionally someday?
I would advise them not to give up, I know the things I faced at grassroot level, from lack of encouragement to some disappointing moments when I felt like it was not going to work for me in football. I want to use this medium to encourage them to hold unto God and believe in themselves.

Thank you for your time Hogan Ukpa, wishing you all the best.
Thank you, it’s been my pleasure talking to you.

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