Chiedozie Ogbene gives a brilliant interview after leaving Nemo Rangers behind to chase soccer dream
Chiedozie Ogbene was just 18 years of age but it was decision time.
He had just scored 1-2 for Nemo Rangers in their drawn county final but as a Cork City player, he was put on the spot a week later when the under-21 A football final replay clashed with a League game against UCD away.
"I know both teams want you but you need to make a decision. You’re 18, you can’t keep this up," recalls Ogbene of what his Cork City manager said to him.
The young all-rounder didn't need to be told because, in reality, he already knew as much himself. He loved playing Gaelic for one of Ireland's most iconic clubs and it was there where he made friends for life that, as an African born Irish-man, were some of the first to welcome him into his new home.
But even though Nemo Rangers will always hold a place in his heart, even though those who coached him say he would have made Cork teams, playing professional soccer was always the dream. He didn't leave the GAA behind lightly but having delayed the inevitable for so long, that drawn county final was the last GAA game he's played.
"It was a very difficult decision," he reflected.
Since, Ogbene moved to Aston Villa, he's played with Brentford and Exeter on loan but two years ago he moved to Rotherham and that's where he began to make a name for himself. Saturday night was his proudest moment yet though as, only a few minutes after he came on as a sub, the direct winger scored his first goal for his country.
Chiedozie's first goal for Ireland 😁🇮🇪#COYBIG | #WeAreOne | #AZEIRL pic.twitter.com/JnBZWtZCKu
— Ireland Football ⚽️🇮🇪 (@IrelandFootball) October 9, 2021
Afterwards, in an interview with RTE's Tony O'Donoghue, the first African born male to play for Ireland was understandably overjoyed during a emotional interview.
"I've made a lot of sacrifices and I owe it to the manager for believing in me and putting me on the pitch. It's a great feeling, especially for the travelling fans, for the people watching at home, and for my family.
"It's all worth it, I would do it all again. There is so much joy going through my body right now, for myself, my family and all my friends I grew up with. We've had a rough patch, but to come here and win 3-0 is overwhelming..."
'I have so much joy going through my body’ - @EdozieOgbene tells @CorkTOD of his delight on getting on the scoresheet after his journey to become a Republic of Ireland player #AZEIRL #WorldCup2022 #RTEsoccer pic.twitter.com/0q8QDOuxyw
— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) October 9, 2021
"This has always been a dream of mine."
Here's to hoping the dream is only starting.