Chinedu Obasi's elder brother, Henry Obasi, who prides himself as both the father figure and role model to the Super Eagles and Schalke O4 forward, speaks to Completesportsnigeria.com's JAMES AGBEREBI on the life and times of the talented footballer who is presently striving to defy injury setback and make a strong comeback at both international and club levels.
Completesportsnigeria.com: May we meet you please?
Henry Obasi: My name is Henry Obasi, a business man, elder brother to Chinedu Obasi. We are six children in our family. I am the first child while Chinedu is the last, so I am like a father to Chinedu Obasi.
How did it all start for Chinedu, talking about his football career?
Chinedu started like a regular Nigerian player. He started with an academy known as River Lane Academy based in Enugu, that was way back in 2001 before he progressed into the U17 national team. He also participated in the Shell Cup and also in Pepsi Academy tournament where he represented one of the secondary schools in Anambra State.
What was the family support like for Chinedu from the onset?
I think being the last born in the family, he probably got all the needed support and encouragement from the immediate family, uncles, family friends and everyone around.
How has his success in football so far impacted on the family?
It has really impacted a great deal because he started at a point where I will say football was actually paying well. And I can say everyone has benefitted financially, it was like a boost that blew him to the top and everyone has benefitted.
Which day would you say was the most memorable for the family since Chinedu took to football?
I think the most exciting time for me, personally now, was the game between Hoffenheim and Bayern Munich in 2008 which I watched in the stadium. The game ended 1-1 and Chinedu scored for Hoffenheim. We all know Bayern Munich when it comes to German football, and to score against them is always a remarkable achievement. So for me, that remains a very memorable moment.
Does it bother you that Chinedu doesn't get invited, lately, to the Super Eagles despite the fact that some of his contemporaries are still in the team?
It bothers me because I know he stands to play a pivotal role when it comes to the national team assignments. But like you refered to his not being there now with his contemporaries, the only thing I feel that is responsible for this is the inconsistency in his club and the shortcomings he has due to injury. He has been on and off.
Now, let's look at the injuries that have blighted Chinedu's career: how did it happen, and what is the situation presently?
The truth is, it wasn't as if he got the injury through any particular tackle. You know as an athlete, injury can come at anytime, whether you are in the thick of the action or not. So in his case, he was diagnosed as suffering from what is called shin splints, also known as medial tibial stress syndrome. And when he went for treatment to at least put a halt to the persistent injury, the doctor who operated on him, insighted a screw inside his leg in order to aid him in continuing with his football. But unfortunately, his body reacted to it so it had to be removed.
The thing is, one cannot really blame the doctor who carried out the operation because, as a medical practitioner, you cannot be 100 per cent correct and also, you cannot be 100 per cent wrong. And from what we gathered, there are ways of curing this kind of injury, and one of such is getting enough rest and the body will come back to normal. Then there is what they call cool therapy and also doing slight stretching of the legs or body. But the most important thing is to relax. The injury comes as a result of stress. So he needs that time to rest. He is in the United States as I am speaking with you, to see a specialist, in order to find a solution to the persistent injury.
How long will he be there?
The thing is, the nails that was inserted into his leg was removed four months ago. so the specialists he went to see in the United States would have to see how the leg heals and know the kind of pills to administer to him because in football you don't just take any kind of pills because of dope test. So he will be under supervision and he will be there till the transfer window runs out.
Any hopes of still seeing him back to top fitness, and possibly back to the Super Eagles in the nearest future?
It all depends on his performance and what he puts in that will give him the opportunity to get invited. Currently, in the Super Eagles, there are a lot of young players who have got the urge to play for Nigeria. But let's just see how things unfold, then we will know if he will still feature for the Super Eagles.
Any possiibility of Chinedu renewing his contract with Schalke?
Well according to his agent, he is going to monitor the first five top leagues, which include England, France, Spain, Germany and Italy. And he is going to monitor the first seven clubs in those leagues to see where he will get a breakthrough because he is a free agent now. And according to Chinedu, a move from Schalke will be better off, you know, a change of environment, weather and a different game plan.
Any particular country in mind that he will readily love to play in among the five you mentioned?
No. Like I mentioned, the agent is looking at these five countries. And they are not even considering him moving to places like in the middle-East because his stock and profile will drop seriously.
Is there youngster in the Obasi family coming up that Nigerians should be looking forward to seeing in the future?
Of course, we have a little cousin, his name is Dickson Obasi Ukwa who is currently going to go on trial in Tunisia . He is 18-years-old and is a striker.
Finally, would you say Chinedu has been successful as a footballer?
He has not really hit the top when it comes to finance, but I will place him on the average. But one thing in life is that it goes down to how one is able to utilize his wealth or little opportunity in life. We've seen successful people in sport who still go bankrupt which has to do with mismanagement and misplaced priorities. Chinedu has always seen me like his role model, I have always advised him. I wouldn't class him like he is that successful, but I will say he is on the average.
Henry, it's a pleasure speaking with you.
Thank you very much for having me.
Chinedu Obasi(left) with younger brother
Henry Obasi(left) with Senegal star, Demba Ba