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Chiedozie Ogbene: I saw my Belgium goal and said ‘who is this kid?’

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Chiedozie Ogbene and Rianna Jarrett with Marwa Babiker, Jason Burnett, Will Hawkins and Eoin Hawkins during the launch of the InterSport Elverys FAI Summer Soccer Schools at the FAI Headquarters. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Chiedozie Ogbene and Rianna Jarrett with Marwa Babiker, Jason Burnett, Will Hawkins and Eoin Hawkins during the launch of the InterSport Elverys FAI Summer Soccer Schools at the FAI Headquarters. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Chiedozie Ogbene during the launch of the INTERSPORT Elverys FAI Summer Soccer Schools at the FAI Headquarters in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Chiedozie Ogbene during the launch of the INTERSPORT Elverys FAI Summer Soccer Schools at the FAI Headquarters in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

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Chiedozie Ogbene and Rianna Jarrett with Marwa Babiker, Jason Burnett, Will Hawkins and Eoin Hawkins during the launch of the InterSport Elverys FAI Summer Soccer Schools at the FAI Headquarters. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Hedonism was put on hold as Chiedozie Ogbene ducked out of an all-expenses-paid trip to Las Vegas with his Rotherham United team-mates.

Spending time back in Cork with his family was the reward from the club owner for his part in the team’s promotion success.

Instead of the fleshpots of Sin City he was to be found walking the beaches of Cork, visiting kids in his old schools, watching former club Cork City FC.

A non-drinker, chocolate is the only vice he succumbed to for a week of down time, when he locked the football boots away and ignored all football-related chatter on his phone.

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It could be a wise move, as this could be a defining summer in the career of the 25-year-old and a chance to move even further up the ladder with Ireland over next month’s four-game series in the Nations League. Rival clubs are hovering, wondering whether to make a bid for the versatile player who was as impressive as a defensive wing-back as he was in at attacking role for the Millers.

Having toiled away in relative obscurity with Brentford and Rotherham after his low-key move from Limerick, scoring for Ireland against the world’s No 1 side Belgium has made people sit up and take notice.

Other clubs will keenly watch him with Ireland this summer.

So he had no regrets about missing out as his comrades headed for Vegas.

“I had other plans. I decided to come back to Cork and see my family, it was a three-day trip so I didn’t think it was beneficial to me to be in that environment. It wasn’t for me, I wanted to go home and see my family, I don’t get to see my family often, this was the best time to see them,” says Ogbene. “I wanted to get the boys to Spain, stay close to home but Vegas is where they wanted and I think they had a great time. I wanted to get in and have a week off, down time before I focus on this camp.

“I think it’s crazy because some days I wake up and I feel like I have to pinch myself about the last 12 months and what I have achieved personally. I didn’t think I was going to go this far with the club’s success and being called by the national team, I never take it for granted, being here.

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“I’ve seen players get the opportunity and other players come and go. I’ve been here for 12 months now and I want to be here until I retire. That’s why I work so hard and try to present myself as best as possible because I want to get this opportunity.

“Playing at international level is not something I take for granted and it’s something I cherish so much. It’s really helped me. It’s what I’ve dreamed of as a kid and I’m not going to lose it now.”

He jokes that his goal against the Belgians was like an out-of-body experience.

“It’s funny, that night when I scored it, I couldn’t believe it because it was a rush of blood. You don’t really practise bicycle kicks and I was just in my room, watching it, saying ‘who is this kid?’”

“You don’t realise it’s you. Honestly, it’s amazing, amazing how far I’ve come.”

Chiedozie Ogbene was speaking at the launch in Dublin of the FAI Summer Soccer Schools in partnership with INTERSPORT Elverys



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