Though admitting he was initially hesitant at making the move to Israel, Super Eagles midfielder John Ogu has turned out the better for it after an excellent display which saw him being named in the team of the season in the Israeli top flight. Ogu who has also earned himself a recall to the national team tells FCNaija.com in this exclusive chat how he enjoyed his maiden season in Israel and how he hopes for better things with both club and country in the days ahead.
You are again back with the national team, how do you feel about that
I feel very elated and equally blessed. After being out of the team for like one year, I am now back in the team. I just hope I am able to prove to the coaches that I have what it takes to be in the team and show Nigerians what I can offer.
Describe your first season in Israel
Well, it was great, it was good. I give God all the glory because it is to Him we must return all glory to Him. Without him the opportunities and accolades that I got would not have been possible. I want to continue from there, I don’t want to stop.
Is this your first time in Israel
I have been to Israel once when I was at Academica, we were there to play against Hapoel Tel Aviv in the UEFA Cup. I never expected to see myself in Israel but as you know, football can take you to the most unexpected places. Tomorrow you may never know the next club that would be interested in you or where you will be going next. In football you move, I had interest from there, they wanted me and I am glad they appreciated my input in the club.
How has the experience been playing in a country like Israel where there has been unrest for years now
I moved to Israel when the war had stopped. Since I have been there, I have never come across anything like war, it has been peaceful, the people are nice, they do their own thing, they give respect to people. So for me, they are nice, peaceful people, because if I don’t think if I had sensed anything different, I don’t think I would be in the country. To be honest with you, I didn’t want to go to Israel but I spoke to Austin Ejide about the club and he said they wanted me. It was like a risk for me, but when I thought about the fact that I have most of my colleagues there, people like Nosa Igiebor, Ejide, I just said why not. So like I said, it’s a peaceful country, and I hope to continue showing the people that I am there to play football and also put smiles on their faces.
Describe life in Israel
To be honest with you, it’s nice in Israel, the football… I did not know how the country is until I got in there. The place is nice and the fans are very encouraging. The atmosphere in the stadiums on matchdays is very encouraging, they watch football a lot. You are playing with a team like Maccabi Haifi and you have a stadium filled with 25,000 fans cheering you on, that is something that any footballer would like because you would love to play and show what stuff you are made of. It is really nice in Israel to be honest with you, not just for the money but because good football is being played and fans are passionate.
How is the Nigerian community in Israel
Aside footballers there who are Nigerians, I don’t know a lot of other Nigerians. With the footballers however, we live like family, those in the first division, those in the second division, we support ourselves in everything. But in the end we are all there to play football and give my best to the club that has hired me.
Was settling down in Israel difficult
Transitioning from Portugal to Israel was easy because Super Eagles goalkeeper, Austin Ejide plays in Israel and we are even in the same club, so they made me feel at home, him and his family. They fed me well, watched out for me. I think they were one of the reasons why I adapted very fast to the country and I want to give kudos to them. I have spent one season now, I am fully adjusted and I will give my best see how far I can go there.
What are the High and low points of the season for you
I want to forget the Cup final, we loss against Maccabi Tel Aviv woefully, shamefully and I want to forget about the incidence because we have Europa qualifier coming up and other clubs games to play for and I want to make sure I remain healthy and fit to give my best to the club and the fans who have been amazing.
The high point, there were many high points last season and I hope it continues as I will always try to give my best to the club
What name are you called by fans
They call me Hugo Boss but whatever they call me, I just want to give my best.