Cristiano Ronaldo is a football superstar and his brand CR7 is one of the most popular in the history of the game.
The 34-year-old who recently scored a hat-trick to help Juventus into the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League – is admired by fans and even fellow players for his awesome dedication to the sport and its no different for Super Eagles prospect, Sebastian Osigwe of Swiss club, SC Kriens.
The former Flying Eagles star modeled Ronaldo’s underwear with the brand name ‘CR7’ and he looked refreshingly stunning in the photo-shoot and got fans loving his picture on instagram and some even popped the question if he is modeling for Ronaldo, which he declined to give any information about.
Swiss-Nigerian Sebastian Osigwe believes he is what the Super Eagles of Nigeria need going into the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in June and he has declared his readiness to fight current number one Francis Uzoho for a place in the team.
“I come from a humble background like most footballers; I was born in Switzerland but my dad is Nigerian and my mom is Swiss,” goalkeeper Sebastian Osigwe of Swiss club, SC Kriens, spoke eloquently about his Nigerian root with some pride. “I have visited Nigeria a couple of times and I really enjoyed the atmosphere. My dad is from Anambra State which is in the Eastern part of Nigeria.”
But for a man born in Switzerland and has lived the better part of his life in the European country to still have fufu and oha soup as his favourite meal speaks a lot about his allegiance to being a Nigerian. And if you think pizza is a good dessert for him, you may be wrong as he enjoys puff-puff (doughnut) like the humble primary school pupil that clings to his mother’s wrappers until he gets one from road side vendors.
“I grew up eating Nigerian food and I love the various delicacies. My favourite is fufu and oha soup, I also love puff-puff a lot,” explained Osigwe. “Nigeria is blessed with very delicious delicacies and I enjoyed most of them when I visit Nigeria.”
He is also a huge fan of Nigerian music and fashion as he revealed: “Nigerian musicians are doing great, they play their songs across Europe and people enjoy the Afro-beat a lot. “I like so many Nigerian musicians but my favourite will be Star Boy WizKid, the beat of his songs are wonderful and you just have to move your body. He also has a great sense of dressing, he is always looking good.”
By the way, Osigwe is not all about Nigerian foods and music as he is passionate about representing Nigeria at senior levels after refusing the huge lure to play for Switzerland despite being part of their youth systems.
The 24-year-old is arguably Nigeria’s most consistent goalkeeper in Europe for the last four years, having made over 100 appearances for his Swiss club, SC Kriens.
He had a brief stint with the Flying Eagles of Nigeria during preparation for the U-20 World Cup in Turkey but did not make the final squad to the tournament and now feels more matured to fight for a place in the senior national team.
He said: “It was surely a great experience. I came into the team after they had qualified for the World Cup which was to be hosted by Turkey in 2013. I really loved my time there because we were like a family; we were always praying, singing and working very hard every day.
“I came into the team when preparation was in top gear for the World Cup and also participated in a preparatory tournament (i.e. Toulon Tournament) where I had the opportunity to get my first cap for Nigeria (at youth level though) against Belgium. A
“As I said earlier, it was always a dream for me to play for my fatherland and ever since that dream was actualised my love for the country became stronger.
“I made good friends with most of the players and we still talk till now and especially the goalkeeper trainer who is the present goalkeeper coach of the Super Eagles (Alloy Agu) who was like a father to me and I also want to thank the head coach John Obuh for giving me an opportunity to serve my fatherland.”
Incidentally, Super Eagles Franco-German coach Gernot Rohr is combing Europe and the domestic league to find quality competition for 20-year-old number one, Francis Uzoho, who became Africa’s youngest goalkeeper at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Currently, Eagles’ back-up options, Daniel Akpeyi and Ikechukwu Ezenwa, are not in top form with the 2019 Africa Cup of Nation (AFCON) coming up in June.
With the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) reportedly setting the target of winning the competition, Rohr knows he needs the best in every position to be able to compete with the likes of Egypt, Senegal and Ghana and Osigwe is dreaming of a life opportunity to join the Super Eagles’ rank
“I believe by the Grace of God I’ll play for the Super Eagles,” he said. “Nigeria is blessed with very talented goalkeepers playing in Nigeria and outside Nigeria.
“But it is the dream of every Nigerian footballer to play for the Super Eagles or represent the team in a competition. It will not be an easy task competing with the current goalkeepers in the national team but if an opportunity comes up, I will definitely not misuse it.
“I can bring into the team my experience from what I have learnt playing in Europe. At the same time I want to give a healthy competition to the first choice goalkeeper, Francis Uzoho, who I think is a strong young goalkeeper with a very big future.
“I believe a big football country like Nigeria must have at least two or three good goalkeepers in the national team. Nigeria deserves this and I believe it is achievable because we are blessed with so many goalkeeping talents within and outside the country.”
Interestingly, Sebastian’s father, Vitalis Osigwe, was a professional footballer and he is hoping to emulate the legacy of his father who also represented Nigeria. “I began my football career at FC Luzern youth team where I was given my football education. I played there for a long time and it was a very good point in my life. I moved on to FC Emmenbrücke and to Zug 94 then finally to where I play currently SC Kriens.
“I was part of the U15’s, U16’s and U18’s youth sides of Switzerland. It was a great opportunity I had to train and play side by side with the best young talents in the country. I enjoyed myself with team back then and I learned a lot from my goalkeeper coaches and the education shaped me to become the goalkeeper I am today.
“Switzerland is blessed with very good goalkeepers, most of them play in the German Bundesliga like Yann Sommer who plays for Borussia Monchengladbach, Roman Bürki who plays for Borussia Dortmund and Yves Mvogo who plays for RB Leipzig and I can tell you that the competition in the country is very tough.
“My reason for switching allegiance to Nigeria is first of all my love for the country. My dad was a former youth international and played for Enugu Rangers which is one of the greatest football clubs in the country and he always told me stories of his time playing in Nigeria and how great it was to serve your fatherland.
“That’s why when the opportunity came for me to serve, I didn’t hesitate and will never hesitate whenever the call comes. My father was a striker and he played for the youth side of Nigeria and Rangers International of Enugu.
“Unfortunately, his career sadly ended very early by a goalkeeper who kicked his knee and maybe a little bit ironic that I am a goalkeeper. “I remember the day I played for Nigeria; he was really proud and very happy that day. I think my career is different from his own and I pray I stay injury free by the grace of God!
“He was always telling me that playing for the national team is the greatest pride of any footballer and I would love to serve my fatherland,” enthused the young Osigwe.
At the start of the current season, the undisputed SC Kriens number one requested for the no.58 jersey in honour of his late mother and it was granted. He went on to help the team secure a 2-1 win against Köniz.
He said: “I decided to switch my jersey number to 58 in memory of my late mother and it was very special to me wearing that number in the first game this season. I wanted to give something back to my mother who always supported my career the time she was alive since when I was a kid.
“She always made sure I had everything I needed for training and made sure I got to training on time. She is the truly the best thing that happened to me and she will forever be in my heart.” Sebastian is the most capped goalkeeper in the history of SC Kriens and that makes him so proud. “It’s always a great feeling to be honoured by your club. Remembering my first game for the club all I can say is ‘thank you God’ for seeing me this far.
“It was a great day seeing my family in the crowd as they were proud of what I have achieved. I am also the most capped goalkeeper for my club as I surpassed Patrick Folleti who is now the head, goalkeepers’ coach of the Swiss national team and he is also my former trainer.
“SC Kriens is a team after my heart. This team gave me the opportunity to be at the level where I am today. I was 19 years old then and I wanted to get game time which is very essential to a goalkeeper’s development, so I decided to leave for Sc Kriens who were in the 4th tier at that time because of financial problems.
“It was a like a new start for me and in four years we promoted twice. It was not an easy journey to get to where we are today because there were a lot of difficult situations which we had to surpass and I thank God we made it and we hope to get to the Super League in no time.
“We are also in the quarterfinals of the Swiss Cup where we will be facing Stephen Odey’s FC Zürich. Playing for SC Kriens has taught me a lot of lessons and the most important one is patience ; since I have learnt not to rush the process but to be more prayerful and wait for Gods time which is always the best.” The 24-year-old idolises former Nigerian goalkeeper, Vincent Enyeama, who he rates as the best ever in the history of the Super Eagles and he is also a huge fan of Arsenal goalkeeper, Bernd Leno.
He stated: “My heroes are Nigerian football legend Vincent Enyeama and Arsenal Goalkeeper Bernd Leno. I have followed Vincent Enyeama since the Korea/Japan World Cup in 2002 and I will never forget his performance against England.
“Also in 2010, he was exceptional especially in Nigeria’s first game against Argentina. He stopped the best player in the world, Lionel Messi, from scoring as he pulled of beautiful saves. I feel he is Nigeria’s best goalkeeper ever.
“Bernd Leno is another fantastic goalkeeper I admire so much; his brilliant performances finally earned him a move to Arsenal and he is doing very well out there.”
Asked about his plans for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) and what he will bring to the Super Eagles if given the opportunity, he replied: “Nigeria is blessed with very talented goalkeepers playing in Nigeria and outside Nigeria.
“It is the dream of every Nigerian footballer to play for the Super Eagles or represent the team in a competition. It will not be an easy task competing with the current goalkeepers in the national team but if an opportunity comes up, I will definitely not misuse it.
“I can bring into the team my experience from what I have learnt playing in Europe. At the same time, I want to give a healthy competition to the first choice goalkeeper, Francis Uzoho, who I think is a strong young goalkeeper with a very big future.
“I believe a big football country like Nigeria must have at least two or three good goalkeepers in the national team. Nigeria deserves this and I believe it is achievable. We are blessed with so many goalkeeping talents within and outside the country.”
The very humble and soft speaking Osigwe has a pretty simple target for 2019 and clear message of love for fans: “My target for 2019 is to be healthy and have an injury free season, because without good health I cannot do anything so I believe that’s the most important thing.
“Also an invitation to the Super Eagles will be the best thing that will happen to me in 2019. I look forward to that day I will get an invitation to the team.
“Lastly, I pray we reach the Swiss Cup final with my club. I believe these targets are achievable and God will make it happen for me.
“I really thank all my fans for their support and their encouraging messages to me on social media. I promise not to disappoint them and I will continue to strive to make a mark in football. “As I always say, I am work in progress and I will continue to push so as to become that goalkeeper they want me to be.”