The goalkeeping department of the Super Eagles has been a major challenge in recent times with many pundits considering it as the weakest link in the team. Francis Uzoho, Daniel Akpeyi and Ikechukwu Ezenwa have tried out at different times but it appears that coach Gernot Rohr is not fully convinced yet.
Ahead of the friendly match against Brazil, Rohr has handed another invitation to 20-year-old German-Nigerian goalkeeper, Maduka Okoye, who takes Daniel Akpeyi’s place in the squad.
The 6 ft 6 inches goalkeeper plays for the Fortuna Dusseldorf II in the German fourth division. He is a lanky fellow with a good reach, sharp reflexes and he believes his strength lies in dealing with one-on-one and set-piece situations. He is yet to feature for Nigeria but it appears that Rohr sees him as a potential long-term replacement for Carl Ikeme.
Having only recently come into reckoning for Nigeria, here are SEVEN THINGS you probably didn’t know about the young goalkeeper……
1. Maduka Emilio Okoye was born to a Nigerian father and a German Mother on the 28th of August, 1999 in the City of Dusseldorf, Germany. The Fortuna Dusseldorf II shot-stopper visited Nigeria for the only time at the age of six in 2006.
2. Okoye began playing football at the age of four and started as a striker. He went between the sticks when the goalkeeper of his youth team in Dusseldorf fell sick during winter. Being the best fit of the 10 youth players who wanted to stand in between the sticks, he was chosen and the rest, as it is said, is history.
3. He began his professional career at the youth team of Bayern Leverkusen in 2012 and stayed with the team for five years before joining Fortuna Dusseldorf in 2017. He made his professional debut in the RegionalligaWest, Germany’s fourth tier, for Fortuna Düsseldorf II on 14th October, 2017 in a game against Wuppertaler SV.
4. On why he chose Nigeria over Germany, he said; “I think it is a decision of my heart because I wanted to wear the jersey since a little child. When my father went to Nigeria, he always brought us Nigeria jerseys and I think it is just a dream. I am 100% Nigeria there is no doubt. I want to make my father proud and that’s the only way.” When he received the invitation to the Olympic team of Nigeria, he said, “It was a crazy feeling, I was almost crying, I waited for this moment for like twelve years. It was a great moment and I will never forget this moment. Thanks to coach Imama for the chance he gave me.”
5. Okoye listens to Nigerian music and some of his favorite songs are Tekno’s “Pana” and Kiss Daniel’s “Madu”. On his initiation into the Super Eagles before the match against Ukraine, as is now custom, the goalkeeper sang Kiss Daniel’s “Madu” as he received cheers from his teammates.
6. His role models are international goalkeepers Dida, Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, David de Gea, Jan Oblak and Thibaut Courtois.
7. Okoye’s dream is to play in the English Premier League and his favorite team is Liverpool.