Enyimba of Aba pocket-sized midfielder Chukwuka Onuwa feels he is routinely snubbed by national team coaches who “look down” on his height and deny him the opportunity to play for Nigeria’s various national teams.
The diminutive playmaker has delighted fans in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) for a number of seasons since he came to the limelight at former club MFM FC who he helped to a second-place finish in 2017 and a place in the CAF Champions League in only their second season in the topflight.
His exploits that season earned him cult status among fans who nicknamed him “Magic 10” and voted him named MFM’s Player of The Year in 2017.
It came as a bit of a shock that he was overlooked by former Super Eagles Chief Coach Salisu Yusuf for the 2018 CHAN tournament in Morocco with many observers of the opinion that he was deserving of a place in that squad.
He was also left out of the national team squad that faced off against Atletico Madrid in a pre-World Cup friendly and has failed to represent Nigeria at any age-grade level.
Stung by these repeated snubs and fueled by a burning ambition to don Nigeria’s Green and White, Onuwa sought a domestic platform and team big enough to make it difficult for national team handlers to overlook his performances.
He moved to eight times NPFL champions Enyimba in the 2018/2019 season, the rationale being that excelling at Nigeria’s biggest club would definitely boost his chances of playing for Nigeria.
While he understands and remains committed to letting his performance on the pitch do the talking for him, Onuwa owns up to a sneaking feeling that his lack of national team call ups at any level is down to factors other than his ability as a player.
The pocket dynamo who models his game on 2018 FIFA Best Player Luka Modric fears national team coaches are wary about taking a punt on him because of his stature but maintains that just like Modric and Lionel Messi, his lack of height should be secondary to his footballing abilities.
“I don’t know [why I haven’t earned a call up yet],” he told busybuddiesng.com. “Perhaps the coaches have been looking down on my height, but I believe height is not everything and my height can even help the team a lot just like Luka Modric, Andries Iniesta and [Lionel] Messi.”
“I model my game in the style of Luka Modric. I want to help the national team of my country and I pray one day when I have the call up I’m going to grab it with my two hands and give my best I’m just waiting for that opportunity and I believe God for everything and I believe soon it’s going to come,” he added.
And when he eventually gets the chance to realise his dream of representing Nigeria, Onuwa says not even a hundred per cent will be enough for his country.
“If I am called upon to come and play for the national team – the Super Eagles or anywhere – I will go and give my all for my team, my 110 per cent for the country. This is my country, I don’t intend playing for another country, I want to play for Nigeria which is why I keep working hard and coming to Enyimba will give me a chance to work very hard and show my self.”