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Chukwueze recounts his rough journey to Villarreal

Super Eagles winger, Samuel Chukwueze, who UEFA has listed a player to watch has narrated his rough journey to La Liga club, Villarreal FC.

The winger, who will be 22 on May 22 in a virtual interaction orchestrated by LiveScore.com through their partnership with La Liga Santander spoke on several issues relating to his career.

Chukwueze grew through the rank at Villarreal to become an integral member of coach Unai Emery team that worked their way into the final of the Europa League.

Despite doubt over his involvement in the final for Villarreal, Chukwueze cannot wait to cuddle the trophy being his first title with the Submarine.

“I’d like you to tell me that I am going to win the UEFA Europa League, just tell me that! I want to win the UEFA Europa League,” enthused Chukwueze.

Recalling his childhood experience, he said: “For me it was about street football, street tournaments when I was growing up. I can remember when I was eight years old, I used to play with the older kids who would choose me for their team. When I used to dribble past two or three people, they used to knock me on the head, so those are the memories I have from when I was growing up.”

For him, the thought of professional football was birthed when he was 14. “I think that was when I was 14 years old, when I went to the Iber Cup that the thought of professional football was ignited. I won the highest goal scorer at the tournament, playing against young players from European teams Sevilla FC and RCD Espanyol, that was when I realised, I can take this football thing seriously.”

An admirer of Okocha and Kanu Nwankwo, Chukwueze has an honourable list of European admirers too: “When I was young in Nigeria, I remember I loved watching Jay-Jay Okocha and Nwankwo Kanu. Every kid in Nigeria was watching them and these two were two of my idols growing up.

I’m going to choose Zinedine Zidane for the football brain, Cristiano Ronaldo for strength and Lionel Messi for the feet,” Chukwueze said.

The former NFF Youth Player of the Year described his call-up to the Super Eagles as a proud moment of his life.

“The day I heard from somebody, ‘you are invited to the national team of Nigeria’, I didn’t believe it the first time. I called my mum and told her ‘Mum, I’ve been invited to the national team’, and she was so proud. I called my brother, and he was so happy too. It was a great moment, it was a dream come true for me. I had only just broken into the first team at Villarreal CF and they invited me, I couldn’t believe it. It was just amazing,” he admitted.

An indigene of Umuahia, the capital city of Abia State in South Eastern part of Nigeria has been a blessing.

“All of my heart is in Umuahia; I think that Umuahia is in the Bible. This state is in the Bible because God blessed this place, he blessed Umuahia, that is why it is amazing and great people come from that place.”

Since 2018, when he made his senior debut for Villarreal, Chukwueze said his game continues to improve with each game.

He said: “I think my game has changed so much, coming from Nigeria to come and play in Europe at Villarreal CF. Before I saw football as entertainment just to play how I want, attack and dribble to entertain the fans.

“Now I think I understand what it means to be tactically disciplined, knowing when to attack, when to defend. I think my overall understanding of the game has changed a huge amount.”

“The most talented player I have played with during your time at Villarreal has to be Santi Cazorla, he is a fantastic player who can play so well with both feet; he is special and very talented.

For him, Cádiz CF and Atlético de Madrid are the two teams that have surprised him this season in La Liga.

“Cádiz CF and Atlético de Madrid are two teams I have been surprised by this year. Cádiz CF in particular, they have some really good players. They won at the Alfredo Di Stéfano against Real Madrid C.F. and they also won against FC Barcelona, two teams that it is great to win against. I think they are actually very good both tactically and also how they play.

With several talents in La Liga, but Chukwueze has a huge respect for other youngsters.

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