Super Eagles new invitee, Anderson Esiti in this interview with JOHNNY EDWARD shares his experience in the Portuguese league and his love for Chelsea star John Mikel Obi. He also discusses reports linking him with AS Monaco and Sporting Lisbon.
Could you describe how you felt when the news broke to you that you were called up to the national team for next month’s AFCON qualifiers against Chad and Tanzania?
It’s a feeling that will stay with me for a very long time because it has always been my dream to represent my country at any level. As a player, I nurse such expectation and I’m glad it’s come on the day I turned 21.
Did you ever believe it could come so soon?
Actually, it difficult to answer that because I was doing well and it was only a matter of time before I get that chance. But with the plethora of talents at our disposal, but I never stopped believing.
Not many know how your football career began. Could you share with us how it all started?
It started on the streets in Warri. I played for so many teams but I honed my football skills with Bobbys United and afterwards I went for trials with the Warri Wolves feeder team and it was there an offer from Leixões came. That was how the story began.
You have been in Europe for just three years, don’t you think playing for the Super Eagles will put you under pressure?
I don’t think so because I’m a regular for my team and the wealth of experience I have gained in the Portuguese league will come handy for me. I was one of the standout performers for Leixões last season and that was why I could move to the first division. I was invited to the national U-23 team last year but I couldn't make it due to the tight fixtures my club had then.
Also considering where we occupied on the log then, it was a bit difficult for my team to release me. But now I have the chance. I will seize it and I am grateful to coach Stephen Keshi who gave me this opportunity to represent my country.
So you think you have enough experience to play at the highest level?
Of course, I do and I hope to learn much more when I arrive the national team camp.
You have been linked with summer moves to Sporting Lisbon and Monaco Anderson, could you tell us where your future lies?
I have been linked with great teams but categorically I'd leave my agent to deal with that. He knows what's best for my development. I am aware of the interests particularly from Monaco but my agent will see to that.
Estoril Praia finished third in group E behind the winners FC Dinamo Moskva and PSV Eindhoven in the Europa league this out-going season. How painful was it crashing out of the competition?
Yeah! it was painful because we needed all three points against PSV to stand a chance going into the final game but we drew and that denied us. It was a good experience for me.
This is your first time in the national team, how are you looking forward to your first training session?
I must tell you I can't wait for that because such moments defines you as a player and I will give it my very best to stay.
The AFCON games against Chad and Tanzania don't come easier than this. How do you fancy Nigeria's chances?
Sincerely I don't know much about the team nor their players but I'm confident with the calibre of players in the Nigerian side
, to see off those games. Like the coach said, I have to work hard to stay in his team and I am prepared to do just that. I’m looking forward to winning both games with the Super Eagles.
Which player do you adore most in the team and why?
John Mikel Obi is my favorite player, apologies to all my other teammates. I watched him during the 2013 Nations Cup where we were champions and I think he was outstanding for the team.
Incidentally, you play in the same defensive midfield role with him and he hasn’t been invited for these games. Do you see yourself as his heir in the national team?
It’s so sad he won’t be coming for the game, as I will have loved to play alongside him. As regards being his heir, that’s not for me to judge I just want to give my best to the team. Mikel is a player I will love to learn a couple of things from.
Okay, your compatriot, Dele Alampasu is currently with the Flying Eagles squad for the FIFA U-20 World Cup. Could you tell us a bit about him?
He’s a good goalkeeper and I wish him the very best in New Zealand. He’s a great guy and I believe he will play a key role in the team’s quest.