By: Oma Akatugba
German-born Nigerian footballer, Kevin John Akpoguma may not be earning €8,000.000 per annum like Franck Ribery, but he certainly makes so much money playing in the Bundesliga for Hannover 96. But the 23-year-old centre back says he does not need a 1000 Euro gold coated steak to be happy.
“I like to travel with my wife, like to eat. But I do not need a steak for 1000 euros. If I coughed out 10 Euros for music on Spotify, then I am fine. That’s all I need.” Akpoguma said, during an interview with German tabloid Bild, from his team Hannover 96 Winter camp in Spain.
Akpoguna whos father is Nigerian, enjoys good music and travel with his wife. However, he thinks the most valuable thing in life is health.
“In April 2017, I broke my cervical vertebra on the pitch. The thoughts on the wheelchair were very terrible. In the first two weeks, football was no longer in focus. All I wanted to do was to get rid of the neck brace and live a normal life, get up, go shopping and drive a car. Since then, I always told the guys in the dressing room, whenever they’re complaining about something, ‘You’re well, you’re fine. That’s the most important thing in life`.'”
Akpoguna has played his entire career so far in Germany where he was born and raised, but the young defender nurses the dream of playing in England and for one of the team, his former team Hoffenheim faced in the ongoing UEFA Champions League group stage.
“My favourite club is Machester City. I will like to play in England sometime in the future, but you have to be complete to be able to cope in over there, and I am not yet in that level. Nonetheless, it was a huge honour to play against City in the Champions League. I have relatives in Manchester, and I got a jersey from them while I was 12.”
Hannover 96 offers Akpguma the opportunity to continue his development having joined them on loan from another Bundesliga outfit Hoffenheim, where he could not get enough playing time.
“There were some offers, but I had contact with only Horst Heldt and André Breitenreiter. The coach plays an important role. André Breitenreiter had successfully worked with young players at Schalke. ”
Because Akpoguma’s father is from Nigeria, the defender is eligible to play for Nigeria as well as Germany, but he had earlier turned down overtures from the Nigerian national team handler Gernot Rohr. He also told omasports in an interview in Hoffenheim in September 2018, that he would only consider Nigeria when it becomes apparent he would no longer stand any chance of playing for “Die Mannschaft”. His comments were followed a massive backlash on Nigerian social media space, Twitter to be exact as fans labelled him “rude” for declaring Nigeria a second choice.
“National coach Gernot Rohr would be thrilled if I chose Nigeria. But I’m only 23, and I do not want to shut the door when it comes to the German national team. That can happen so fast in football, see Nico Schulz. No one would have thought two years ago that he would be playing for the German national team. It would be an honour if I got a call from Joachim Löw. ” Akpoguna said
Hoffenheim’s Akpoguma says you all should calm down that when the door to “die Mannschaft” closes, then it would be a huge honour to represent Nigeria. pic.twitter.com/T2klt3cwes
— Oma Akatugba (@omaakatugba) November 2, 2018
Akpoguna’s insistence on playing for Germany ahead of his father’s country Nigeria may be inspired by the Success of Jerome Boateng, who has a Ghanaian father but opted for German instead of Ghana, unlike his half brother, Kelvin Prince Boateng who played for Ghana. Jerome won the world cup with Germany in 2014 in Brazil.
“He Jerome was the “ultimate” for me, I had his posters hanging in my room. Now I am at an age where you no longer have heroes. But of course, I still think he’s good. ”