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My Heart Beats For Nigeria – Kenneth Otigba

Kenneth Otigba declared his wish to play for Nigeria despite playing for Hungary at youth level and he exclusively tells supersport.com why his heart beats for Nigeria as Calvin Emeka Onwuka caught up with him in Heerenveen, Holland.
Last year, as the Nigerian Super Eagles prepared for the world cup in Brazil l or actually just after the qualification was ensured I was at a press conference where a few names were reeled out to coach Stephen Keshi and asked if these players could break into his squad for Brazil. Amongst those names were Leon Balogun then of Fortuna Dusseldorf in Germany and Kenneth Otigba at Heerenveen in Holland. Balogun did eventually get a call up but injury denied him a place in the final squad for South America.
Otigba on the other hand remained elusive and had even played for Hungary at various youth levels many attempts by this reporter to get an interview never yielded results. So most surprising, last week I got text from Otigba asking that I ring him when I could. I did and we set up a meeting at his club in Heerenveen 2 hours outside Amsterdam by train.
We met just after training exchanged greetings but he had to have lunch with the rest of the team while I got myself comfortable. He looked a proper centre-back in his very imposing physique but a boyish smile that was quite welcoming.
Otigba was born in Kaduna, northern Nigeria to Clara and Patrick “my mum had lived in Nigeria for 17 years before I was born but when I was about 4 and half years she took me to Hungary as she was leaving Nigeria” He informed on his return as we sat down for the interview. So when did he know he will be a professional footballer I asked Otigba. “From when I was around 7 years old I was only after football; I was always playing football and when not playing I will be watching. One day I said to my mother that I have to be a professional footballer, that my dream is to have that career”
To be able to make this career would require a lot of sacrifice so at the age of 14 Otigba left Hungary for Holland to join Heerenveen snubbing Liverpool in the process. Liverpool? “Yes, I was at the club for two weeks during Rafa Benitez reign as manager, then also another two weeks at Heerenveen at the end I had a choice to make between both clubs. My agent and I spoke and we decided that I will progress more as a footballer playing in Holland. It was not even a hard decision and one I have never regretted”. He says this with that comfortable smile and twinkle in his eyes to confirm that he means it.

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