FROM ENGLAND WITH LOVE
Posted: Jun 09, 2012
After globe trotting African and European countries playing top-flight football, Osaze Odemwingie finally finds love in England...
FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE’, is one of Ian Flemmings’ popular James Bond films released some decades back (1963 specifically) with all-time star and legendary actor, Sean Connery playing the fictional British Agent 007. But for Nigerian international Osaze Odemwingie, despite being born in Russia, could only found love elsewhere -- on the football pitches in England.
When the news first broke that the Super Eagles and West Bromwich Albion forward has found his soul-mate who he intends to marry, not a few people accross the world, especially his numerous Nigerian fans, waited with baited eyelids to see who the lucky damsel would be. For one, Odemwingie has shown his dexterity in the round leather game and his quality is never in doubt, but many could hardly wait to see if the fleet-footed player would be able to score high marks with his choice of life-partner as he has been doing on football pitches accross the world.
And aside the fact that the former Lokomotiv Moscow of Russia striker is one of the most handsome and gifted footballers to grace the Nigerian national team in recent times, not to mention the wealth and fame that comes with it, Odemwingie displayed good morals worthy of emulation by the young and old alike, in that the bi-racial star exercised great discipline to have been able to keep himself far from female-induced scandals as is rampant amongst his star colleagues.
By the time the wedding bells eventually tolled last month however, Odemwingie left no one in doubt that he had a good eye for a worthy bride just as he had for scoring goals. And when the veil was eventually lifted from the face of Sarah Michael at the wedding which held in Manchester, England, only the blind would not acknowledge that Odemwingie captured a beautiful bride.
For Odemwingie, the journey to football stardom enroute finding his hearthrob took him on a journey accross several mountains, valley, oceans and deserts. He transversed the cold terrains of Russia to tropics in Nigeria coupled with sojourns in Belgium, France before arriving in England.
He kickstarted his football career playing in the youth systems at KAMAZ and CSKA. He first plied his trade with Nigerian Premier League side Bendel Insurance, where he scored 19 goals in 53 league appearances from 2000 to 2002.
He then proceeded to Europe and signed for Belgian club La Louvière in 2002 and made his mark by helping the club to win the Belgian Cup in his first season. Scoring nine goals in 44 appearances attracted the attention of the French Ligue 1 side Lille OSC and before long he was a starter in the first team playing in the French Ligue 1. Famous for his technique and pace, Odemwingie was being monitored by a number of prestigious European clubs but he stayed back and helped Lille fight for the league, scoring five league goals for the side in 2006-07 season as well as two goals against Italian giants AC Milan at the San Siro to take Lille to the UEFA Champions League knockout stages.
However, on 16 July 2007, he signed for Lokomotiv Moscow for a reported fee of $14 million on a four-year contract. In three seasons for Lokomotiv, Odemwingie became the driving force of the attack and one of their most important players. During his time at Lokomotiv Stadium, Odemwingie scored 21 goals in the Russian Premier League from 75 games.
On 20 August 2010, Odemwingie signed for English Premier League club West Bromwich Albion for an undisclosed fee on a two-year contract, with the option of a third year in the club's favour. A day later, he scored the 81st-minute winning goal on his Premier League debut, a 1–0 win against Sunderland.
Odemwingie continued his fine scoring form, and by 30 April, he became the first player in West Brom's Premier League history to score in four consecutive games. This goal came against Aston Villa and meant he had scored 15 goals thus far in his debut season. It would also contribute to Odemwingie's second Premier League Player of the Month award of the season. Odemwingie is only the sixth man to have received the accolade twice in a season in the award's history.
He then signed a new three-year agreement with West Bromwich Albion, after a £4 m bid from Wigan Athletic was turned down by the club. And though he was slowed down by injury which limited his playing time in his second season, he still went on to score 10 goals for the side and his performances last February led him to be named the Premier League Player of the Month for the third time in his career.
On the international scene, Odemwingie chose to represent Nigeria where his father was born and won his first cap when he came on as a substitute in a 3–0 victory over Kenya on 4 May 2002. And he hasn’t looked back since as he went on to feature for Nigeria at the 2002 and 2010 FIFA World Cup. He has also featured for the Eagles in several African Cup of Nations finals and at some time captained the team.
Odemwingie was selected as the only over-aged player of the Nigerian football team at the 2008 Summer Olympics held in Beijing. During the tournament, he scored one goal and made one assist for the Dream Team which eventually lost in the final to defending champions, Argentina.
Presently on honeymoon with his new bride, Odemwingie is still part and parcel of the Eagles who have began playing the African and World Cup qualifying series. And having secured permission from coach Stephen Keshi who expressed his joy at one of his players’ new status, Odemwingie, who has already achieved the status of a veteran in the Eagles, is expected to be recalled back into the team toward’s Nigeria’s aspirations to feature at the forthcoming 2013 and 2014 Nations and World Cup finals respectively.
With Odemwingie having found his better-half, one can expect the pacy forward to return to football action next season in a more blistering form than before! And with his darling wife Sarah, urging him on, the goals are guaranteed to start raining for both club and country.
Full Name: Peter Osaze Odemwingie
Date of birth: 15 July 1981 (age 30)
Place of birth: Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Soviet Union
Height: 1.82 m (5 ft 11)
Preferred foot: Both
Current club: West Bromwich Albion
Jersey number: 24
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2000–2002 Bendel Insurance 53 (19)
2002–2004 La Louvière 44 (9)
2004–2007 Lille OSC 75 (23)
2007–2010 Lokomotiv Moscow 75 (21)
2010– West Bromwich Albion 60 (25)
2002– Nigeria 54 (9)
1 Russia Premier League winner with Lokomotiv Moscow in 2007
1 Top Scorer, Russia Premier League with Lokomotiv Moscow in 2008
1 Silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics 2008
3 Bronze medals at the Africa Cup of Nations in 2004, 2006, 2010
2 World Cup Attendance with the Nigerian national team in 2002, 2010
1 Nigeria Footballer of the Year award in 2010
3 English Premier League Player of the Month awards in September 2010, April 2011, February 2012
1 English Premier League African Player of the year award in 2011
*Top scorer for West Bromwich Albion in 2011 with 15 goals
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