Okocha, Kanu inspire me to play for Nigeria — Egbe

Not much is known about you in Nigeria…

(Cuts in) My name is Jeffery Egbe, I’m 18 years. My father is Nigerian from Abia State and my mother is Austrian from Tirol. I love football and I started playing at a very tender age scoring goals. I got called up to the Tirol Academy because of the qualities I have. I am big and strong and I’m able to play many positions just like David Alaba. I just finished the Austrian football academy and signed a two-year professional contract with FC Wacker Tirol but I will be featuring for the second team that play in the Austrian 3rd division league. But the first team coach believes in me and told me I would be training with the first team once in a week, so I’m happy about that.

Why do you wish to play for Nigeria rather than Austria, where you were born?

As a kid growing up, I watched the Nigerian national team whenever they played, with my father, and I admired their technique and the strength they use in playing. With their technique, you could compare them with Brazil.

How much of Nigeria do you know?

Like I stated earlier, my father is from Abia State and I often travel to Nigeria on holidays. I love Nigeria, the food, the music, the Nollywood movies and the lifestyle. I have been to a lot of places over there like Aba, Lagos, Abuja and Jos on holidays.

Is your father behind your decision to play for Nigeria?

Yes my father will be proud if I can put on the green and white colours of Nigeria and make him and the nation proud.

David Alaba, who also has a Nigerian father, plays for Austria, why don’t you want to be like him by playing for the European nation?

I am proud of both nations and love them. Although the Austrian national team have been doing well with the new generation of players like Alaba and the others, Nigeria have been featuring in most competitions and doing well too and I will love to play at the World Cup and even win the Nations Cup, that is my dream. So I am open to both nations and proud to be both.

How much of Nigerian footballers do you know and which of them inspire you?

I  know a lot of Nigerian star footballers like Benedict Akwuegbu, the brother to my coach, Emmanuel; Jay Jay Okocha, Nwankwo Kanu, Mikel Obi, Ahmed Musa, Emmanuel Amuneke, the coach of the U-20 team and many more. I saw videos of some of these players on YouTube and Jay Jay inspired me the most with his fine technique.

What are your immediate ambitions as a young footballer?

They are to break into the first team of FC Wacker and to put on the Nigerian jersey and show what I can do. I also want to bring a new trend in football. I want people to know me and get impressed after watching me play.

Which of the big leagues in Europe do you hope to be playing in the future and why?

I will love to play in any of the top leagues like England, Germany, Spain and Italy; they all have their qualities and I have the quality to fit into any of them. I am big and strong, technically and tactically very good. I have the blood of a Nigerian that makes me courageous and ambitious.

You are eligible to play for the Flying Eagles but they have crashed out of the African U-20 AFCON. Do you think you would have been able to compete for places with the already established players in the squad?

Yes I can compete with them. It’s unfortunate that they couldn’t make it. I will wait for my chance and if I get it I will surely make the Nigerian fans happy.

You have been under the tutelage of coach Emmanuel Akwuegbu. Of what relevance has he been to your career?

Coach Emmanuel saw the potential in me after watching some of my games in the Academy and told me I am the kind of players we needed to bring back our (Nigerian) national team to where it belonged. He advises and encourages me. And being a coach and also a retired player, he knows a lot about the game and tells me the secret of Nigerian football. He tells me to believe in myself, have self-confidence and always be serious-minded, disciplined and work hard. He says all these will help me achieve my goal. He is a good mentor and he is working hard to make me succeed. He always tells me in Nigerian style, ‘you are a material.’

Can you tell us the low points and highlights of your young career so far?

The high point of my career is being the highest goal scorer and best player in the Austrian U-13, U-15, U-16 tournaments and league games. Also playing a lot of games for the Academy as a utility player made FC Wacker to buy me out of the Academy and give me a two-year contract, which we signed recently and I thank God for that. I don’t have any low point yet but I’m just disappointed that Nigeria is out of the U-20 AFCON, which I was hoping for, but I will still wait for another chance.

Which global football star do you admire most?

I admire Paul Pogba because of his technique and determination to win. My teammates call me Pogba because of my height and technique; I’m also very strong in duels like him.

If you get a chance to play for Nigeria in the future, what quality will you bring to the team?

I am a team player; I am good in understanding tactics. I will give my best for the team and the country. I am strong and fast in running. I’m the fastest in my team. I have very good skills: heading, tackling, and I’m confident on the ball too. I can shoot very well with both legs.  I also have the ability to read and understand a game, I’m disciplined, I always want to win so I fight for the team and push my teammates.

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