…Says some Eagles stars don’t have my kind of profile
…It is not difficult to climb but easy to fall
Shakthar Donestk forward, Olarenwaju Kayode is among a select club of Nigerians who played through the ranks of the Golden Eaglets, Flying Eagles, Olympic team to the Super Eagles.
He says some Super Eagles players don’t have his high profile and gives the blueprint on what it takes to succeed as a young African player in Europe, reports JOHN EGBOKHAN.
Congratulations on the opening of your mansion and such a great outpouring of emotions from well-wishers here and I can see that you are already emotional.
I am very happy, I am super excited because this is a massive house and I have to give thanks to God for making my efforts to count. Since I started playing football, this is one of my greatest achievements for myself and family and I thank my wife, for being there for me. I also thank all my friends who have supported me.
Why name your house The Cave by LK 8?
The reason is because in my career, I have had a lot of challenges but when I went to Austria, things changed for me. Over there, I wore jersey No 8 and I emerged the highest goalscorer for two seasons and finished as runners-up in the third year. I think I also had 15 assists. It is not quite easy to be among the top scorers in Europe . So that is why I don’t want to forget that name and the jersey No. 8. In fact, they called me LK 8, no Larry, no party. It is such a remarkable day for me
But your career has been up and down the hill. How have you coped through it all?
Football is not quite easy but I give thanks to God. I worked hard and God saw me through the challenges. I doubled my efforts and it paid off. My wife also supported me. My wife did a lot in my life. She is also my agent and has been there for me, through the good and bad times, I can say that I don’t have much headache or challenge in football again.
Why choose your wife as agent, given that there are many top-rated , tested and well-connected agents out there?
She loves football and has passion for the game. She is a Manchester United fan. She has been supporting me for a very long time, even when we were dating, she was there. I had to make my wife my agent because I had many problems with agents, because it is not easy for players from Africa to make it in Europe . It is not that we don’t have good players in Africa but they don’t have good people to manage them. That is why I chose my wife because she has a clue, knows the rhythm but I had to put her through. I don’t really do much because she is also a FA-licensed agent. This is good for my family. In fact, as a father of three sons, I have started planning for them. I enrolled one of them, Jason Ayobami Kayode in an academy. He is playing in Istanbul and is one of the best there. They said he has passion for football. They are saying good things about him. My last baby also shows interest in football but I am not going to push them but only guide them on the right path.
Parents should support their children who want to play football. I was backed by my father to play football and that is why I have achieved my goal today and I want to do my best to make my kids thrive.
How long did it take you to build this luxurious mansion and can you give us an idea of the cost?
A year and a couple of months It was not easy because it is a massive and luxurious house. It cost me a lot of money to construct. This house is different because of the quality in it.
You have played as a youth international and also in the Super Eagles but now that you are thriving, scoring goals in Europe, don’t you feel it is high time you got an invitation to the Super Eagles?
I know everything is about time but I feel it is my time to play for the Super Eagles again. I played for Nigeria in U-17 and U-20 World Cups, I also played for the Olympic team and the Super Eagles but they didn’t give me time to prove myself in the Super Eagles. I hope when I get an invitation to take my chance and score goals to put smiles on the faces of Nigerian fans.
With the draw for the 2022 World Cup qualifying holding next week in Cairo and Eagles about to know their opponents, what is your message to Coach Gernot Rohr, who intends to shuffle the deck to make the attack more prolific?
Coach Gernot Rohr already knows me. He knows my quality. Nigerians know me. I started from the Golden Eaglets and just like Mikel Obi, I have proved that I have what it takes to be in the Eagles. It is not all the players in the team that have this kind of my high profile. Even Ahmed Musa did not start from the U-17 level. He started in the Under-20 and is a very good player and a close friend of mine. I don’t want to talk much about the coach but when it is time for him to call me, he will do.
But one thing I can say is that this is my time and I am doing so well in Europe now and the world knows that. I am not the only one doing well in Europe. We have other Nigerians doing well out there and my appeal is for the coach to encourage others by calling them. I don’t know who is scouting for them but they should give others the chance to prove themselves.
The winter transfer window is on and we hear that you might be on the move as some clubs are luring you to join them.
Yes, I have a lot of interests from some European clubs but I don’t want to disclose their identities and their offers as I have a contract with Shaktar Doneskt and on loan to Gaziantep. I have to take my time to complete the season. I don’t know my next destination but mine is to play, focus and achieve my goals in Turkey.
What is your target in the next two years?
I want to return to Champions League football. That is my aim. That is where good and talented players are playing. I want to showcase myself to the world and prove myself in the Champions League . But now I need to work harder to be in the Champions League again.
As a former youth international, how do you feel that Nigeria would not play football at the coming Olympic Games in Tokyo?
That is a difficult one. I love my country a lot and having played from the Under-17 level to the Super Eagles, I am not happy with what happened to our teams. Let’s go back to when legends like Daniel Amokachi, Nwankwo Kanu played, their record at the Olympics was very good. I believe that we can get back to that great era. We have the talents and potentials to be top in Africa and maybe one of the best in the world. I believe so much in this country but quite frankly, I don’t understand what is going on now. I think we need to give the chance to those who deserve it. We also need to have good scouts and place trustworthy and passionate people in positions that will make our football better.
What is your message to young footballers, desirous to become stars in the future?
If they have passion for football, they must never give up. They have to push to the end. It is not easy to play football but they must be ready to sacrifice now in order to enjoy later.
Is it difficult to thrive in Europe as a young African player or put in another way, how tough is it to go through the ranks in Europe and become a global star?
It is not difficult to climb but it is very easy to fall. The determining factor is who is your guardian. Exceptional professional footballers have people who guide and monitor them. They have people who put them through. That is why many Nigerian players don’t make it in Europe. To make it, you need good agents who will work to advance your interest and further your career.
Personally, I invest a lot because one cannot play football forever. The truth is that when you have money through football, you have to invest your money in property business, oil and gas. You have to associate yourself with people who know much about this things. You have to brand yourself and never give up.