#BounceExclusive: I Was Stripped By Siasia – Super Eagles Midfielder
He was stripped of the Captaincy armband of the Dream Team to the Rio 2016 Olympics, and the role was given to Super Eagles captain- John Obi Mikel.
The former Chelsea midfielder led the team to third place finish amidst controversies of unpaid allowances, while the Yeni Malatyaspor star played in five of six matches at the Games, missing out on the semifinal clash against Germany.
Azubuike Okechukwu is a reliable midfielder and a dependable team leader.
Born in Katsina, he has played for Nigerian Premier League sides Niger Tornadoes and Bayelsa United in his country before heading to Europe to join Yeni Malatyaspor in 2015.
His contract at the newly promoted Turkish Süper Lig club runs till 2018 as some clubs have shown interests in buying the players.
In 2015, Okechukwu captained Nigeria to the U-23 Africa Cup of Nations in Senegal, where he lifted the trophy and was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
He told Bounce News that leading the team to win the championship for the first time for Nigeria was simply amazing.
“My biggest moment was when I lifted the trophy (U23 AFCON) in Senegal, it was really a great experience for me.”
He made his international debut for Nigeria in 2016, and he was selected by coach Samson Siasia for the 2016 Summer Olympics where they won bronze.
2016 Olympics: Germany 2-0 Nigeria
“My lowest moment should be when we lost our game to Germany. I didn’t play that game and I saw it as something very bad for me because I was supposed to be on the pitch.”
However, the experience of participating at the Olympics was a boost to his career.
“It’s a good one for me, it’s a boost to my career, I got a lot of experience from it.”
The 20-year-old says he started playing football in primary school, and in most cases, he played with bare feet, for the fun of it.
“There was a trial at Niger Tornadoes, I went and fortunately I was taken by the coach. I started playing from the first game and I played a lot of games for them. Afterwards, I went to Bayelsa United and now am with Yeni Malatyaspor in Turkey.”
Okechukwu was elated when he got his first invitation to the national team from late Stephen Keshi to play at the Home Based Super Eagles.
“I was playing a game against Kwara United, he (Keshi) saw me and invited me to the Super Eagles camp where I met with Sunday Mbah and a couple of other big players. I got acquainted with them and we started playing.”
“We just promoted to the top league, I think I’ve been doing very well, all thanks to God. I played 29 games last season and I was also in the team of the season for the first league.”
Okechukwu is looking forward to an exciting 2017/2018 football season in the Turkish Süper Lig after helping his side gain promotion. He knows it will be competitive, but he is prepared for the challenge.
“For me I think I’m ready. I’m looking forward to it with lots of anticipation, and I think it will be good for me. We have played against big players like Robin van Persie and Emmanuel Emenike, so am prepared for the premier league in Turkey.”
ALSO WATCH: Meet Azubuike Okechukwu, Turkish 1.Lig Team of The Year Star