By- Oma Akatugba
Maduka Okoye may be a giant in stature and may look physically imposing but he is just human, and one whose emotions prevail over at times. The Fortuna Dusseldorf goalkeeper said he shed tears of joy after making his debut against Brazil. Okoye’s debut was hinged on fate as he had to replace injured Francis Uzoho, who according to medical experts will be out for six months, after damaging his ligament. Thus when Okoye was called upon, he had to represent his fatherland, the only country he said he can play for. ”It was a great feeling, almost indescribable because I had many emotions and feelings going through.
I thank God for the team and the opportunity I’ve gotten to play for the national side of our beloved country. ”I cried after the game. I shed tears when I spoke to my father and brother.”
Speaking on what it felt like playing against the country of his role model, Dida, a former Brazil and AC Milan goalkeeper, Maduka said; ” I grew up watching Dida, he is a legend in Brazil and AC Milan and I felt great. I talked to Ederson and he is also one of my favourite goalkeepers. It’s crazy being on the same pitch with a goalkeeper you watch his videos on YouTube.”
Okoye said he was caught surprised by the chance he was given. He said: ”I didn’t expect to play, I was just sitting on the bench like the last time in Ukraine and I knew I’d have to wait for my chance. I didn’t know it will come so soon but things can be like that.” On pidgin and its difficulty, he said; ”I thought pidgin was easy but it’s a lot more than some words.
It’s a whole other language. Some of them are teaching me, I hope I’ll be ready to speak pidgin in a few years. I know the basics now.” He extended his most heartfelt regards to Uzoho over his injury. He said; ”I wish Francis the fastest recovery he can get because we push each other in training and he’s a really great guy. I’m sad for him but that’s football and I hope he will come back stronger so he can be back on the pitch.”
On the love he has received from Nigerians, he said; ”I have no words for Nigerians, because of the huge love they’ve shown me. I want them to know that I love them and I will do my best to pay them back.”