Super Eagles

Onazi reveals how Stephen Keshi helped him play for Nigeria

Super Eagles midfielder Ogenyi Onazi has revealed how former national team coach, Stephen Keshi helped him to play for Nigeria.

The Denizlispor star said his performances for Lazio against Tottenham Hotspur in a Europa League game earned him his first invitation to the national team.

Onazi said the former Super Eagles handler was impressed with his performance in the match which the late coach watched him play in the match in 2012.

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“Keshi told me he wanted me to do something for Nigerians, that he was going to play me in the right-back position against Zambia, Efe Ambrose was suspended. I told him I was ready to play as a goalkeeper,” Onazi told Super Eagles media team via Instagram live.

Keshi invited him in September for his first international call up and made his debut in a 2013 Afcon qualifying game against Liberia.

Onazi was part of Nigeria's 2013 AFCON winning side in South Africa | Getty Images
Onazi was part of Nigeria’s 2013 AFCON winning side in South Africa | Getty Images

“Coach Stephen Keshi personally watched me playing against Tottenham Hotspur in the Europa League when I was in Lazio.

“That was when he asked Enebi, the Team Secretary if I was a Nigerian and he said yes, he said he wanted me in the national team, so that’s how I came to the Super Eagles.

“I have so much respect for the Big Boss, I never forget about him, he’s a legend and may his soul rest in peace and God bless him wherever he is, he contributed massively to my football career”.

Onazi, capped 52 times for the Super Eagles, was a mainstay in the team that won Nigeria her third African Cup of Nations title in South Africa.


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