A HANGOUT WITH CHIDIEBERE NWAKALI
Chidiebere Chijioke Nwakali (born 26 December 1996) is a Nigerian footballer who plays for Norwegian club Sogndal Football club, on loan from Manchester City, as a right back. Sogndal Football is the association football section of Norwegian sports club Sogndal IL from Sogndal in Sogn og Fjordane. The club was founded in 1926. On 20 January 2014, Nwakali signed a four-year deal with Manchester City from Shuttle Sports Academy, after impressing with Nigeria under-17s in 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup. He was also a part of the first team’s pre-season tour to USA in July.
HOW ARE YOU DOING TODAY:
I’m alright thank you and you?
I’M QUITE GOOD THANK YOU FOR ASKING, SO YOU ARE A MANCHESTER CITY FOOTBALL CLUB PLAYER, HOW AND WHEN DID THAT COME ABOUT? PLEASE ALSO LET US KNOW WHEN YOU WERE SIGNED.
That happened a long time ago, basically around 2013, after my world cup match in Dubai.
REALLY? SO YOU WENT FOR WORLD CUP IN DUBAI?
Yes I did
SO THAT WAS NIGERIA’S UNDER 17 WORLD CUP FOOTBALL TEAM TO DUBAI
Yes I played with Nigeria’s under 17 and 20 football team
REALLY REMARKABLE, SO WAS IT AFTER THAT YOU STARTED PLAYING FOR MANCHESTER CITY FOOTBALL CLUB? ALSO, WHO SEARCHED YOU OUT?
I was not scouted by anybody but by the Manchester city football club themselves. The club itself was available during the Dubai hosted world cup, they watched the league and also put up something on their website requesting for anybody with close contact with me to come forward with an offer for negotiations
I GUESS THEY SAW TALENT IN YOU AND YOUR POTENTIALS WHICH MADE THEM PUT THAT UP. WHEN DID YOU START PLAYING FOOTBALL?
Well you can say that and by God’s grace
OK CHIDIEBERE, NOW YOU ARE ON LOAN TO NORWAY RIGHT?
SO TELL ME HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT? I KNOW MOST FOOTBALL CLUBS LOAN CERTAIN TEAM PLAYERS TEMPORARILY, BUT WHAT TEAM ARE YOU ON LOAN TO AND HOW DID COME ABOUT?
I’m on loan to Sogndal football club in Norway, I was here last year as well with Idrettsklubben start. I played for almost a full season with Idrettsklubben start before I got injured, could not continue with playing and I had to return to England at the end of the season, After that I had so many offers from Norway and other countries, but I picked a Norwegian club because when the Norwegian league ends, is when these other countries leagues start. I also had to go on a one month holiday. I could not have gone to any other league as it did not make sense to get in when I will only have 4 or 5 games to play whilst in Norway I’ll definitely get to play more than that (about 13-14 games). I decided to come to Norway to play and when the season ends again, I will have to look for another place to play in so basically, i’ll just be here temporarily for a maximum of three months.
SO AFTER YOU LEAVE NORWAY, WOULD YOU BE COMING BACK TO ENGLAND TO PLAY OR YOU WILL BE ON LOAN SOMEWHERE ELSE?
Really football players like me, are not more concerned with returning to one big place like Manchester city to play only to be benched, but just as I am a young player, i’ll need to develop myself, my skills, and that can only be done on the field, not sitting on the bench and watching others play or playing on the second team. Basically what we do is look for other clubs to go on loan to, get to develop our skills and a gain experience.
YES, I DO UNDERSTAND THAT AND I ALSO KNOW THAT IT AT LEAST HELPS YOU TO IMPROVE YOURSELF AND YOUR FOOTBALL SKILLS. I KNOW THE MORE YOU PLAY THE MORE EXPERIENCE YOU GET AND YOU GET MORE EXPOSED SO THAT WHEN YOU EVENTUALLY RETURN TO ENGLAND YOU WILL BE A MUCH BETTER PLAYER.
I KNOW YOU ARE ABOUT 20 YEARS OLD, YOU ARE REALLY YOUNG FOR WHAT YOU HAVE ACCOMPLISHED SO FAR SO I WILL LOVE TO ASK WHEN EXACTLY DID YOU START PLAYING FOOTBALL?
I started playing serious football in 2010, I had to travel to all the states in Nigeria and I had no major support from anyone. I remember the first time I went to Lagos for a football program, I did not know anyone and I had no place to stay, I begged a friend to stay with him and he was living with about five people. There wasn’t even space for me to lay my head, everywhere was fully occupied. I had to sleep on the corridor. Fortunately for me, I was officially selected to play in the under 17 national team, but then my family and I needed to get money for my gear and travel costs to the place but we had none. Finally, I got to in Morocco, world cup in Dubai, got signed to Manchester city and that was it.
THAT WAS AN INSPIRATIONAL STORY YOU JUST TOLD BECAUSE I DO NOT KNOW THAT MANY PEOPLE WHO WOULD GO THROUGH ALL THIS FOR THE LOVE OF FOOTBALL OR ANYTHING.THAT BRINGS ME TO THE NEXT QUESTION, DO YOUR PARENTS FULLY SUPPORT YOUR CAREER AND AMBITION.
Actually, I was very intelligent in school. My father was the secretary of the Nigerian union of teachers association in Imo State. This was ten years ago before he died. They initially insisted that I must get educated and study a professional course, I remember getting whipped severally. We were very poor and sometimes I’ll get sent on errands to go buy foodstuffs like rice and on this particular day I bought rice in a nylon bag, I forgot about taking the rice home and went with the rice to play football and in the process someone kicked the nylon bag causing all the contents to be on the floor. I finally got into serious trouble that night as we would have gone to bed hungry if I did not go into my aunt’s shop in the guise of helping her sell her wares only to replace the lost rice. She finally discovered and I got into real trouble. I ran away from the house for two days. When I eventually returned back home, I was whipped by everyone in the house.
DO YOU COME FROM A VERY LARGE FAMILY?
Yes my grandfather got married to two wives, my dad got married to one wife but he was the fourth son of my grandfather. My dad had eight kids originally but one died. We are now six boys and one girl and I am the fifth child.
WHO WERE YOUR EARLY INSPIRATIONS, YOUR MENTORS OR PEOPLE YOU GENERALLY LOOKED UP TO?
I used to watch a lot of football as a youngster, I liked this guy Guti Hernandez, he played for real Madrid. I always used to go pay money then, anytime he played to watch him on T.V and study his skills, and I always wondered what was so special about these international players that they made so much money when there were more talented players in Nigeria wasting away. I wondered if it was because we did not work just as hard but coming to Europe enlightened me more about the issue and I realized that it was because their country is more developed and organized and they start to train their players from a very young age, (enlisting them in Manchester city academy, Chelsea Academy etc at age 12), and these international players have more opportunities than we have in Nigeria. Their countries also invest in their talents and help it grow.
SO DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS OF GOING BACK TO IMO STATE TO CONTRIBUTE TO DEVELOPING THE TALENT THERE AND TRY TO CREATE OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE YOUNG ONES?
Yes, I already do that, I partnered with some people to set up an academy where these young talents are groomed and sent off to their host countries and club with all travel costs taken care of by us. My younger brother Kelechi Nwakali plays for Arsenal and he was trained at the same Academy.
WHO ARE THE PEOPLE YOU LOOK UP TO ASIDE FOOTBALL AND YOUR FAMILY?
I really don’t listen to anyone apart from my girlfriend. Whenever I want to do anything, I consult her before I take action. I made her my all, so I only seek her opinion.
I WAS JUST ABOUT TO ASK YOU ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP STATUS, BUT I’M HAPPY YOU BROUGHT THAT UP BEFORE I ASKED CONSIDERING THE REPUTATION OF FOOTBALLERS. WHY ARE YOU CALLED MAN CITY WHIZKID?
I don’t know maybe its cos of my love for music and football. I always listen to music everywhere I am.
WHAT IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP LIKE WITH YOUR TEAMMATES?
We get along very well despite the language barrier. You can’t afford to not like your teammates as these are people you will definitely get to see every day of your life. Just take people as they are. As long as you are focused, nothing anybody does or says will cause you react cos you know where you want to be.
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU? WHAT GETS YOU UP FROM THAT BED IN THE MORNING? I KNOW PLAYING CAN BE VERY TOUGH
Anytime I look back and remember where I come from, I keep reminding myself how much I do not want to go back there.
HOW DO YOU HANDLE PLAYING WHEN YOU ARE NOT IN GOOD FORM LIKE WHEN YOU HAVE MINOR INJURIES, TUMMY ACHE, FLU, OR ADJUSTING TO THE COLD WEATHER?
As a football player, you generally get to experience different weather conditions, so you get used it. Cold weather is not a problem for players. When you are injured you need to understand that it is part of football and so you have to work around it to be up again. When you are injured you can’t really do anything cos you will always be in pain and never be as strong as you were. You just have to accept your current situation, never lose your focus, train at your pace, let your injury heal and get yourself back up again.
IS IT TRUE THAT CELTIC TRIED TO SIGN YOU AT SOME POINT?
Yes, they did.
WHAT IS THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF GOAL YOU HAVE SCORED IN A GAME AND THIS SEASON SO FAR?
I have played four matches this season but I did not score a goal. Last season I scored five goals.
WHICH GAME HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE SO FAR?
It was when we played for Mexico. They were laughing at us calling us kids when they saw us alighting from our bus at the hotel. They underestimated us and we ended up scoring 6:1 against them. They were even hiding when it was time for dinner with all the team that came for the world cup. We were the only team to play against them and win and I also scored a goal in that match. I will always remember that game.
THANKS, A LOT CHIDIEBERE FOR GIVING US YOUR TIME AND SO WE HAVE COME TO THE END OF THE INTERVIEW, ANY LAST ADVICE?
Always remain focused and do not forget where you are coming from.