After a disappointing end to the 2014/2015 season which saw Hull City suffering relegation, Nigeria international, Omatsone Aluko, was in the country to spend a few days. Aluko who is an ambassador for City of David United, was at the National Stadium, Lagos to conduct a screening programme for COD kids. In a chat with completesportsnigeria.com's JAMES AGBEREBI, Aluko spoke about his football career, where he hails from in Nigeria, why he chose Nigeria over England, his sister Eniola, Super Eagles and lots more…
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THIS SCREENING THAT JUST TOOK PLACE?
I think in Nigerian football it is a shame that this is the exception and not the rule. You don't get things like this very often. In the space of 24 hours you see over a thousand boys here, all of them being watched, being screened, maybe one day joining COD United. So I think it is a very good opportunity for them.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO LINK UP WITH COD?
I have always been a player that since football has given me so much, it is my responsibility to give back to the society, especially in Nigerian football. There is so much talent here. COD shares my own values of being principled and disciplined. As a player I am someone who likes to give back to the society. As we all know in Nigeria there is so much talent and COD encourages that talent to blossom.
HOW HAS YOUR ROLE AS AN AMBASSADOR FOR COD BEEN?
It has been very enjoybale, I have had the chance to play with many of the children, speak to them to see and help them connect with their dream. When I was young I used to dream of becoming a Premier League player. I live in the UK, but for me to be able to talk to them, help make the dream closer.
MOST NIGERIANS ONLY KNOW YOU AS A NIGERIAN INTERNATIONAL AND HULL PLAYER. TELL US MORE ABOUT YOURSELF.
I am from Ekiti State, Ado Ekiti to be precise.
CAN YOU SPEAK YORUBA?
(Laughs) I understand it but I can't speak because I grew up in London, I didn't grow up here. And also, there was no one around me to speak Yoruba to me.
ANY REGRETS THAT YOU CAN'T SPEAK YOUR LANGUAGE?
No regrets, it's just the way life has taken it, the most important thing is that I can still connect with Nigerians and I can communicate with them, teach them what I know.
ANY NIGERIAN FOOD THAT YOU LIKE?
I grew up with Nigerian food, all of them like jollof rice, efo, pounded yam, that's what I eat most of the time.
YOU DECIDED TO PLAY FOR NIGERIA BUT YOUR SISTER ENIOLA PLAYS FOR ENGLAND. WHY DID YOU TAKE THAT DECISION?
When I was growing up, the players I looked up to at the international stage were Kanu, Okocha, Sunday Oliseh. And the dream I had of playing at the World Cup was always in green and white. And when the opportunity came, I felt more comfortable with Nigeria and I took it. Eniola didn't really have those role models when she was young so she didn't have the choice to pick Nigeria, so our paths have been different.
WHO GETS MOST OF THE SUPPORT BETWEEN YOU AND ENIOLA FROM THE FAMMILY?
We get equal support but the truth is if England were to play Falcons, I would support England. I no go lie, I would fully support my sister.
YOU WERE NOT INVITED BY COACH STEPHEN KESHI FOR THE AFCON QUALIFIER AGAINST CHAD. HOW DID YOU FEEL NOT BEING INVITED?
That's the selection that was made, that's how the coach decided to go, he decided to change the team a bit. It's disappointing I didn't get to play but this is football. In international football, it's not your right to play, not like club football where you have a contract to play. If they call you, you come and give your all, but if they don't call you, you move on and concentrate on your club career hoping one day to get the chance again, which I believe I will get, and I will do the best I can.
WERE YOU INFORMED BY THE COACH BEFOREHAND OR YOU FOUND OUT YOURSELF WHEN THE LIST WAS MADE PUBLIC?
They just released the squad and I found out I wasn't in it. I don't think the coach has the responsibility to inform every player that you are not coming. I still have a good relationship with Mr Keshi and I still wish the team all the best, because I am always a Super Eagles fan. Before I became a player, I had been a fan and I want the Super Eagles to qualify for the Cup of Nations.
LAST YEAR YOU PLAYED IN THE FA CUP FINAL BUT THIS YEAR YOU WILL BE PLAYING IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP. WHAT WENT WRONG?
This last season was a tough one for us. The Premier League is a ruthless and unforgiving league. Every point you have to work hard and a lot things didn't go our way. We didn't play to our potential but we plan on getting back to the Premier League.
DO YOU PLAN ON STAYING WITH HULL CITY AND HELP THEM BACK TO THE PREMIER LEAGUE?
I have a contract with Hull City. I have another year left and as I am speaking with you, my focus is to get them back to the Premier League. But if something changes I will let you know.
YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE FLYING EAGLES AND THE SUPER FALCONS?
The truth is when you look at some of the players in the German team, most of them play in the Bundesliga, but how many of our players play top level football? It was a tough game for them and the German boys were good boys, but it happens, it doesn't mean our U-20 team isn't a top team, but we should focus on development. It's not about winning the U-20s, that's not the aim, after all we've done well at the U-20s, we've won the U-17, so it's not supposed to be winning at this level. For the Falcons, their first game against Sweden was unbelievable, coming back from twice to draw. But one thing we should note is that there are top countries playing at the World Cup, countries who play good football but it doesn't take anything away from the Falcons, they are a good side.
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