Nigerian midfielder Ogenyi Onazi has disclosed why he did not sign for Chelsea early in his career after excelling for the Golden Eaglets.
31-year old Onazi says that he came close to signing for Chelsea as a young talent but was hindered by age restrictions.
Onazi, plays for Italian Serie C side Avezzano Calcio was once-upon-a-time a regular feature with the Super Eagles of Nigeria, earning over fifty caps for the national team.
The former Lazio midfielder was a crucial part of the Super Eagles’ success in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), playing every minute of the knockout stage matches.
His journey to the top started early when he represented Nigeria at the age of 16 during the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup hosted in Nigeria, where the Golden Eaglets lost in the final to Switzerland.
Recounting his early career experiences, Onazi shared that he had trials at Chelsea as a young player, but the move couldn’t materialize due to age restrictions.
Despite being on the verge of joining the London club, his manager decided to explore options in Italy.
“I was going to sign for Chelsea, but my manager decided that we should go to Italy. When I was young, I almost signed for Chelsea, but we were underage and couldn’t play. We had to wait until we were 18,” Onazi revealed.
The midfielder explained that the lengthy process and age restrictions played a significant role in the decision to pursue a move to Italy.
The choice to start with Lazio’s second team provided a developmental path, allowing him to progress to the main team as he matured.
Onazi’s career has seen him play in various leagues but he has since gone off the spotlight he enjoyed between 2010 and 2019.
As Nigeria competes at the 34th AFCON in Cote d’Ivoire, mentions will be made to Ogenyi Onazi and other members of the 2023 Super Eagles nations cup winning squad.