Former MFM FC striker Stephen Odey is back in Nigeria on recess from his FC Zurich Swiss League side and spoke with KAYODE OGUNDARE on his European sojourn among other issues…
Stephen, how have you been finding life in Switzerland?
Well, it’s been wonderful so far although it was quite tough at the beginning. The language, the food, the culture and everything were different but football has one language so I didn’t have any problem with that.
The club officials helped me to settle down quickly and I’ve been enjoying my stay so far. One thing I found intriguing about them is that they stick to time a lot. For a young player coming from Africa, keeping to time promptly could be a bit problematic given the way we do things back home but, all in all, I’m coping well and everything is fine so far.
Having played in both, how would you compare the quality of the Swiss and Nigerian leagues?
The Nigerian league is fast developing, especially in the past few years with all the innovations being introduced but in terms of organisation and funding, I think the Swiss league is ahead. This funding also makes it possible to attract quality players from all over the world so I can say we have a few things to learn from them.
But, like I said, we are on the right path in Nigeria. We just need to keep improving on the good things we are currently doing.
You are better known for your time with your former NPFL team, MFM. The team has qualified to play in the CAF Champions League. What is your opinion about this and how far do you think they can realistically go?
I wish MFM all the best in the CAF Champions League and I pray they go as far as possible in the competition. I may no longer play for them but MFM will always be a part of my story because without them I won’t get the opportunity I had to reach where I am today. Without MFM there won’t be Stephen Odey at FC Zurich so my heart is still with the team and I will always be interested in their progress.
What are your targets with FC Zurich?
When you are a striker, your target is always to score goals and to surpass your previous achievements. Like in my first year in the Nigeria Premier Football League, I set a target to hit double digit goals and, with God on my side, I made it.
Now, I have also set double digits for myself in my debut season in FC Zurich and I know that it is very possible to achieve. So I will work very hard and, God willing, I will achieve the target.
That brings us to your first goal for FC Zurich scored against Luzern on December 10th in a game you lost 2-1. How did you feel scoring your first goal in European football?
Well, I felt normal but I guessed that goal took the anxiety and pressure away from me and boosted my confidence that I can achieve great things if I worked hard at it. The goal was not enough to prevent us losing the game though but I’m still glad I scored it.
Do you think you can break into this Super Eagles team enroute the World Cup?
I prefer to keep working hard to cement my place in my club first before thinking about the national team. Don’t forget I have been a part of the team even while at home but the immediate priority is to do well at my club. I believe this can attract the attention of the national team coaches. So let me wait for my time.