-Says Flying Eagles Are A Great Side
One of the dramatic talking points from Thursday’s second round clash between Nigeria and Germany at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand was the affiliation the European champions’ captain, Kevin Akpoguma had with both countries, and how he admitted before kick-off that he still holds an affection for his father’s land of birth.
The TSG Hoffenheim defender’s father happens to be a Nigerian and the youngster admitted he felt a sense of double-identity heading into Thursday’s match in Christchurch, but quickly pointed out that his allegiance remains with Germany, where he was born and grew up.
Akpoguma stated as much in an interview with FIFA.com before kick-off, during which he disclosed that his parents were both in New Zealand to follow the competition and his father would hold the flags of Nigeria and Germany during the game, while hoping that his adopted country would win at the end of the day.
The 20-year-old powerful defender, who is capable of playing both as a centre-back and on the right side of a four-man defence, described the Flying Eagles as a great side and admitted that he remains well-placed to identify with Nigeria.
He recalls how he took to soccer early, as a very small child, when his father took him to the football pitch everyday and helped him learn to have fun with a ball at his feet.
He has visited Nigeria twice and his grandparents live in Benin City, where Akpoguma fondly remembers everyone going to church on Sundays and then playing football together, something he recalls being always pleased to be part of.
“I’m half-Nigerian as my father is Nigerian, and I’m glad to be able to say that. I was born and grew up in Germany so I consider myself to be German.
“As a person I always want to get on well with everyone. I can’t hate or envy anyone. I enjoy meeting everybody and I think that kind of mentality is typical for Nigeria.
“As a footballer I also would say that I have my African roots to thank for my athleticism because I’m still fast despite being tall. Nigeria are a great side,” he told FIFA.com.