Danish Superliga club SønderjyskE has offered Nigeria international midfielder Ogenyi Onazi a new way forward after a four year spell in Turkey blighted by injury.
Injuries have seen Onazi’s career look like it has been thrown into reverse – moving from Lazio in Italy’s Serie A to Turkish sides Trabzonspor and then Denizlispor and now onto Denmark.. Despite the issues the 27-year-old remains philosophical about things and believes the Danish club are the ideal platform to revive his career.
“Injuries are inevitable because it’s something that happens a lot in football, but it’s not been fair to me,” Onazi, who has just signed a one year deal, told BBC Sport Africa.
“At the most important time in my career is when it happens to me and I have no proper explanation for this.” Onazi was tipped as next big thing when he first shot to limelight at Italian side Lazio before breaking into his country’s senior side by winning the African Cup of Nations in 2013 and playing at the 2014 World Cup. But his brilliant run in Brazil was ended by a late tackle from Blaise Matuidi during France’s win over the Super Eagles in the round of 16. It started a litany of injuries in his career and came to the fore when he ruptured his achilles at Turkish side Trabzonspor in December 2016. What followed were four fraught years as he attempted to find a way back from the Achilles injury that became the bane of his existence.
Taking a pay cut
His career has never been the same and revealed the nightmare including muscle and calf problems has made him “more hungry and determined to do well”. “Coming from where it all started I believe I’ve seen the worst that life has to offer on and off the pitch,” he said. “I am more hungry and determined to do extra well. I’ve lost a lot of grounds, but it can only be better from here on.” Onazi, who won the 2013 Italian Cup, joined as a free agent and admitted he took a big pay cut to earn a way back to the top.
“We had other offers from different places but the main reason I chose Denmark is because I haven’t played in a while,” he admitted. “I decided to go to a place where I can have proper fitness, get regular game time and test myself mentally.
“It was not the best option financially but it’s the most challenging and it provides a tough physical challenge. The training is physical like the German league. “It’s a short-term plan but I am prepared to take it one week at a time and after this we can look at something bigger.”