It’s been a long road to full fitness for Super Eagles flying full-back Tyronne Ebuehi and the fit and firing player has his eyes set on becoming Nigeria’s first choice right back.
The 25-year-old FC Twente player looked to be Nigeria’s answer at right-back following his debut in a friendly against Argentina in 2017 and saw his stock rise even further with an excellent showing against Croatia at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
A move to Portuguese giants Benfica followed but Ebuehi failed to play a single minute for the senior side after succumbing to a long-term cruciate ligament injury soon after arriving at the Estádio da Luz.
Looking back on his gruelling road to recovery, Ebuehi credits Eagles boss Gernot Rohr, his teammates in the national team and the NFF for helping him in his darkest moments and giving him hope he’ll wear Nigeria’s green and white again.
[Rohr] played a big role in [my recovery]. I spoke with him a lot of times, not only with the coach but with the staff, with some of the players – they were always checking up on me and asking me things,” he told busybuddiesng.com ahead of Nigeria’s trip to the Benin Republic for Saturday’s 2021 AFCON qualifier.
“It made me feel very good and comfortable also and also the hope that I’ll come back after my injury again. It helped a lot.
“Of course, I had to do the work myself at the end of the day but I’m thankful for the coach and the staff and the players that always checked up on me and asked how things were going.”
And after more than one year away from the national team, the player who made the move to birth country Holland to join Twente on loan last summer has now made four of Rohr’s last three squads and played his first match for the Eagles in more than a year in a friendly against Algeria last October.
“It feels good, always great, always happy to be with the national team. Always feels like an honour, I’m just happy especially now after my injury that I’m feeling good again. It’s an honour, always,” he says of his return to the national fold.
And looking ahead to Saturday’s 5pm encounter against the Squirrels of Benin, Ebuehi says the entire team is focused on not repeating the 4-4 Sierra Leone debacle and ensure they seal a spot in Cameroon at the earliest opportunity.
“I think everyone is ready, we know what we have to do, we know what happened the last time,” he said. “Those type of things can happen in football, of course, you don’t want it to happen but that’s football. The only thing we have to do is make sure we qualify and I have the full belief that it will happen.”
After being on the bench in four of his last five international call ups, Ebuehi who has a goal and assist in 26 Eredivisie games for Twente would love to reprise his club form for the Eagles.
The former ADO Den Haag player has been overlooked for Kevin Akpoguma in Nigeria’s last three games but with the Hoffenheim defender not in the squad, Ebuehi believes he can deliver if given the chance but says the decision, as always, lies with the coaches decision.
“I’m always confident in myself. I think everyone wants to play but at the end of the day, the coach makes the decision and we as players have to respect that,” he said.
“If I play, I’ll be happy; if I have to sit on the bench, I’ll be happy because you know like I said it’s an honour to be here with the team.”