Why I chose Nigeria ahead of Italy, England – KJ Osu
Belgium-based Olukayode Osu is eligible to play for Nigeria, Italy and England but the youngster, in this exclusive interview with www.naijasuperfans.com, reveals why he prefers the green and white of Nigeria, his favourite Nigerian player and, of course, his love for Naija jollof rice….
Can you tell our readers your name and a bit about your growing up?
My full name is Olukayode Jacomo Osu but everyone calls me KJ and I’m 18 years old. I grew up in a nice family, to be fair. My parents raised me well. I got into footbball very early and I would play non-stop with my friends. I had a very very good and fortunate childhood.
Who are your parents?
My dad, a Nigerian, runs a technology business and my mum who’s Italian is a therapist. She works with sports people and regular people seeking therapeutic help. My dad left Nigeria as a young man but he’s still in touch with his roots.
How did you get into football and the journey so far?
I started out with a Sunday league team and then after six months I moved to Fulham. After considerable time at Fulham I moved to FC Wimbledon until this summer when I left them for Belgium to sign for KSV Roeselare.
How many times have you been to Nigeria since you were born?
To be honest, I’ve never been to Nigeria so I’m very excited to go there hopefully in the next few months.
What’s your favourite position on the pitch?
I play majorly in central midfield or as a defensive midfileder and I can also play in other positions but those are the main ones I see my future in.
What do you think you’ll bring into the Nigerian team if you’re given the chance to play for the U-20?
I’ll bring a lot of mental strength. I lead by example whenever I play. I’m energetic and confident on the ball and off the ball. I’m good in the tackle and able to give balance to the team. I think my style of play is well suited to the Nigerian game.
How much do you follow Nigerian football?
I’m a big fan of the Nigerian team. I really enjoy watching the national team. Few years back in 2013, when the Super Eagles played against Italy in a friendly in England where I was raised, I was there with my family and it was a great game even though it was against my mother’s country and it felt really close to home.
Who are your favourite Nigerian players?
At the moment I would say Wilfred Ndidi of Leicester City who I saw everytime because when I was in England Leicester were always on the television and they are one of the big teams in the Premier League. Then in the past I used to like watching Yakubu Ayegbeni when he played for Everton and Blackburn and also when he played in the World Cup for Nigeria.
What do you consider to be your strength on the pitch?
I can bring balance to any team because I can play in multiple formations in quite a few positions. I’m a versatile player who’s mentally strong, good on and off the ball so I’m fairly well-rounded. I also get on well with my teammates which is obvioulsy very important if you are going to win things. You need team cohesion, you need that strength to really push to the latter stages of tournaments to make sure you win as a country.
Is the choice of Nigeria from your heart or a rebounce because Italy and England have failed to look your way?
No, I feel like I’ve got very strong connections to Nigeria. My dad brought me into football, he would always take me to football games so for him it would be very good to see me wearing the Nigerian jersey because I know how passionate he is about Nigeria. So definitely Nigeria is my team and I don’t see why that should change at all because I’m a loyal person so it’s not as if I will change my mind so soon after speaking so highly about Nigeria. Moreso, my attributes are better suited to the Nigerian game so I’m committed to Nigeria.
Favourite Nigerian foods?
I’m going to be simple so I pick jollof rice because it’s a staple and you can have it with a variety of meals.
Did you have many Nigerian friends growing up?
To be honest, I didn’t have many Nigerian friends growing up. I had a few Jamaican friends where I’m from but not too many Nigerian ones.
What do you look forward to seeing when you finally make your first trip to Nigeria?
I have some uncles and aunties from my dad’s side of the family that I have not seen for many years so it would be lovely to meet up with them, maybe have dinner with them and then meet more of my extended family. That would be really great. And, of course, to see where my dad grew up because he’s told me so much about it but it would be better to experience his growing up in the flesh, to see what he saw and learn how he grew up there. This would help me to know my father and his family more than I already do.
Where’s your dad from?
My dad grew up in Lagos and both of his parents were from Lagos too.
What are your career goals going forward?
This is my first year of professional football but I have learnt so much in the past few years so I hope to get as many first team games as I can under my belt. I’m not someone who’s satisfied with being on the bench for the sake of it. I’m at KSV to play, I expect to play and I will do whatever it takes to play as much as I can.
Have you had any contact with the NFF?
Not yet but hopefully the more I get to work hard and do well for my club, the more the Federation and national selectors will get to see me and that may justify a call-up for me.