Chiedozie Ogbene has his sights set firmly on the Premier League and revels in his role as Republic of Ireland’s surprise package.
The 25-year-old was playing at full-back for Rotherham when Ireland manager Stephen Kenny gave him his international debut and put him in an attacking role, a decision that saw his country score three times in his first six games.
Nigerian-born Ogbene, who took his first steps in professional football at Cork City and Limerick before moving to England, admits he still has a lot to learn but doesn’t put any limits on his ambitions.
He said: “It’s the drive I have. I’m sure no player in this building would just want to stay where they are. Everyone strives for the next level like any other player, so I focus on that.
“I want to go to the next level and when I come here… This is the highest level, international football. So when I come here and see players who have played in the Premier League, are in the Premier League, I try to learn from them because that’s where I want to be.
“That’s exactly the ambition I have.”
Ogbene made his debut for Ireland as a late substitute in a friendly against Hungary in June last year and scored his first international goal, also from the bench, in a 3-0 World Cup qualifying win in Azerbaijan in October of that year.
He has won 10 caps in total, most recently coming on as a substitute against Ukraine in June after being eliminated from the team after a miserable start to the Republic’s Nations League in a 3-0 win over Scotland.
When asked how he reacted to this disappointment, Ogbene replied: “I try not to get too high when things are going well and try not to get too low when things are going bad. Those things will happen, but the people I have around me are pretty good.”
Ogbene will be hoping for a chance to meet the Scots for a second time when the sides meet at Hampden Park on Saturday when manager Kenny faces a number of difficult decisions.
Asked if he would be scared of dropping skipper Seamus Coleman or assistant Shane Duffy, neither of whom currently plays at club level, Kenny replied: “Would I be scared of it? no I wouldn’t be afraid to leave anyone out. I don’t think I would be sitting here if that were the case.
“You always have to make tough decisions. They are two brilliant people in the group, both have had great careers, both Premier League players. They’re not on their teams right now, but we’re only seven games into the season. I’m sure they will get the chance to come back to Everton and Fulham teams.
“They have been great servants to Ireland and have a great role to play for us in the future.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/premier-league-chiedozie-ogbene-republic-of-ireland-stephen-kenny-limerick-b2171633.html Chiedozie Ogbene from the Republic of Ireland wants to reach the Premier League