MFM’s Onuwa: I’m not bothered about my height and Modric is my role model

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The star midfielder is unyielding about question marks over his height while claiming the Real Madrid star is an inspirational figure to his game


GOAL EXCLUSIVE              
That Chukwuka Onuwa needs a ladder to touch the upright of a goal post would draw laughter, but his talent has made many tip him for greater heights.

Born on November 8, 1996, the attacking midfielder who almost quit the game after constantly being told he was too small to make it as a professional has carved out a superb career for himself at MFM FC after his move from Heartland FC.

Onuwa announced himself to the footballing world at just 16 by winning the Federation Cup with Heartland in 2012.

A year later, he joined the Olukoya Boys and helped them gain promotion to the Nigeria Professional Football League.

In 2017, he was in fine form as his partnership with the ‘Three Os’ [Sikiru Olatunbosun , Austine Opara and Stephen Odey] wreaked havoc on opposing defenders.

While Olatunbosun’s wonder strike against Enugu Rangers earned rave reviews, Odey’s goalscoring exploits did not go unnoticed as that earned him a move to FC Zurich. Onuwa stood out, as pulled the strings from the middle.

MFM, too, know that they can count on the 20-year-old when they need inspiration. His strike against Katsina United and several assists helped the Olukoya Boys finish second and qualify for 2018 Caf Champions League – one season after enduring a tortuous route to retaining their Nigeria topflight status.

“Last season was a dream come true in my career because I was on top of my game because my coach [Fidelis Ilechukwu] believed so much in me,” Onuwa tells Goal.

“We were not given the chance to excel because we struggled to escape relegation the season before the last – and against all odds we finished in second position which was a massive one for us.

“The key for us was togetherness and we played for one another. That was evident in my partnership with [Stephen] Odey, [Sikiru] Olatunbosun , captain [Austine] Opara and myself.”

Onuwa talks Modric

 

It is not a surprise to learn that while Real Madrid ace Luka Modric is Onuwa's role model, the diminutive MFM man is making bold efforts to follow in the Croat’s illustrious footsteps.

“My style of play is not different from that of [Luka] Modric because I watch him a lot and model my game on him,” he continues.

“I watch his video clips always and during my training, I borrow some tricks from him and try to match his standard.

“I enjoy watching [Andres] Iniesta too. And coming back home, Jay Jay Okocha is my man and I respect him a lot.”

Giving his tiny height – which he sees as an asset, it is easy to understand why he loves playing against taller oppositions.

“Playing against people of my height is difficult, so I prefer to play against tall players because they underrate me and I get them punished for that,” Onuwa reveals.

“Playing against them gives me joy and I never get scared facing them.

“My height fits me and I must confess that is my greatest asset. That is why on match days, you will hear opposing coaches instructing their players to mark me out because they know how dangerous I can be.”

Onuwa PS

Given his ability, there has also been understandable speculation linking him with a move from Agege Stadium.

Even Onuwa is mindful of the snares of trying to moving to another club soon, claiming he just wants to enjoy his time in Lagos, excel in the Caf Champions League before trying to take his trade elsewhere.

“I have no plans to leave. All I need to do now is to concentrate towards a good outing in the Caf Champions League,” he adds.

“Every player’s dream is to play in the Caf Champions League, so this is the time to showcase my talent to the world.

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“I call myself Makanjuola meaning no need to rush. When it is time for me to move, I will do just that. I have a coach [Ilechukwu] who is like a father to me, and my teammates love me too.

“If I get a chance to pick a team I would love to play for in Europe that would be Barcelona because their pattern of play suits me.”

With such a mature head on his shoulders already, Chukwuka certainly looks prepared for greater heights.

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