Chelsea FC of England’s defender, now on-loan at Championship side Hull City, Ola Aina was called up to the Super Eagles for the World Cup double-header against the Indomitable Lions. Inability to conclude his paperwork with FIFA meant the 20-year old missed the first leg in Uyo but was an unused substitute in the return leg in Yaounde.
Aina sat down with completesportsnigeria.com’s KAYODE OGUNDARE to discuss a wide range of issues including his change of allegiance to Nigeria from England where he’d represented England at under-16, under-17, under-18, under-19 and under-20 levels…
What are your first impressions of Nigeria?
I love Nigeria. It’s been fun since I arrived. Nigeria is such a beautiful place and the people are always eager to help and make you feel at home.
And what has been the reception by other players?
The players have shown me love. Everyone has been especially kind to me since I joined up that it’s hard to believe that I’ve not known them all my life. They did a welcome party for the new players and we were expected to sing karaoke. I sang Timaya’s song and it was fun. The staff have also gone out of their way to help me settle in and I’m very grateful for that. It couldn’t have been better than this.
So why did you choose Nigeria ahead of England?
That’s very simple. I choose Nigeria because it’s my country. (Laughs)
But you could have chosen England too?
Yes, but I chose Nigeria. (Laughs again). Seriously speaking, Nigeria is a great country and the lure of playing for the Super Eagles was too appealing to turn down. Of course, at the time I couldn’t play for England for reasons I didn’t know so when the opportunity came to switch to Nigeria I grabbed it with both hands and though it’s still early days yet but I’m enjoying myself here and I hope to be with the Nigerian team for a long while to come.
What personal and team targets have you set for yourself?
Obviously the main target for now is to get to the World Cup with Nigeria. That is a target that we are on the verge of achieving, thanks largely to the efforts of the guys who started this journey from Matchday 1 and we just have to hold on and make it a dream come true. Playing in the World Cup is the peak of any player’s career. After that we can talk about the African Nations Cup and all the other competitions Nigeria qualify for. For me, I want to do well and win things both with club and country. I’m not asking for much, am I?
Let’s go back to your loan deal at Hull City. What are the conditions and how long is it for?
The loan deal is for a season but Chelsea inserted a clause that they could recall me at any time they want so we have to wait and see how it goes. I’m enjoying myself already because I need regular playing time in order to maximise my potentials so going to Hull City is the best decision to happen to my game at this point in my career.
Does that mean you are not good enough to get into this Chelsea team?
Of course I can do that. I’m confident in my ability and I will take my chance when it comes. Going on loan is a learning curve, not an inability to play at the highest level.
Ola, it’s nice talking to you and we wish you best of luck with Nigeria and Chelsea
Thank you very much. It’s been my pleasure talking to you.