My mum was my prayer warrior
Not many mothers would allow their wards to play football in Nigeria-at least not at the expense of education. That is not the case with mum of Super Eagles and Galatasay of Turkey striker Henry Onyekuru. Speaking exclusively about his mum, who was snatched away by the cold hands of death on April 7, 2021, Henry said he would miss her deeply while describing her as his backbone. “My mum was my pillar. She was my backbone and also my prayer warrior.”
Mrs Onyekuru, who passed on at the age of 58, has since been buried in their hometown in Anambra state.
Onyekuru thanked his club and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) for standing by him during his morning period.
The death of Onyekuru’s mother was broken by his Turkish Super Lig club Galatasaray on their social media platforms on Wednesday morning.
The Club wrote: “We have learnt with great sadness that our footballer, Henry Onyekuru’s precious mother, Jessy Onyekuru is dead”.
“We share the pain of Henry Onyekuru and his family, and extend our condolences,” the Turkish club added.
Equally, the NFF have also sent their condolences to Onyekuru even as they prayed for the repose of the departed soul.
The NFF via their Twitter handle wrote: Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Super Eagles forward, Henry Onyekuru, following the sad passing of his dear mother. May her soul rest in peace.
Onyekuru hinted of their intimate relationship from his boyhood and how she encouraged him and stood by him as up and coming footballer.
Onyekuru said though he chose the path of football, her mother was patient with him when things did not work out and encouraged him.
“My mother has been my backbone since I was young. Words cannot express how I feel and how grateful I am for what she did for me. She kept encouraging me when things were very rough at the start of my career in Senegal.
“I know some parents would have told me to go back to school but she waited patiently with me. I’m glad that she saw me played at the highest level. It was painful to lose her at this point in time. I will surely miss her. She was the biggest influence in my career.”
BACK HOME IN TURKEY
As a member of the team that qualified Nigeria for the forthcoming Africa Nations Cup (AFCON) in Cameroon, Onyekuru said his return to scoring way in Galatasaray after a difficult loan spell in Monaco, helped him a lot in the national team.
“Galatasaray is home and I remember that my first international tournament for Nigeria at the 2019 AFCON in Egypt, was made possible because I was playing regularly in Turkey.
“I always thank God for making me wear the Galatasaray jersey again. It is an incredible honour to play in a big community like Galatasaray and to wear their uniform. I have a very good bond with the fans. The support they give me for me to come back, to be with them again, to be with my teammates and my coach makes me incredibly happy.”
His first missionary journey to Galatasray during his second loan spell from Everton in the 2018/2019 season, proved to be a life saver for the 23-year old who scored 16 times with six assists in combine 31 appearances. He also won a domestic double (Super Lig and Turkish Cup) in the season.
When his season-long loan expired, he had to move out again, though this time on a permanent deal to French side AS Monaco after failing to secure work permit with Everton.
“The first dream is to play in the Premier League, it may not have worked out at Everton but I have no regrets about it. When I received offers from top clubs in England I knew back then that I needed a work permit to play. That it didn’t happen then has nothing to do with my talent but red tape that’s beyond my control. I really wanted to go to Arsenal because I spoke to some people there as I was very young then. It was obvious that I was not going to play without a UK work permit. So I went to Everton and played in the Champions League through a loan move to Anderlecht.
“It was important for me to get more playing time and experience that I had hoped would help boost my chances of earning the permit. I can’t say I regretted this because I got to play against Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League, this doesn’t happen to everyone.”
The France move did not work out as he played only eight games without any goal only to be loaned again to Galatasaray last year.
Upon returning to Turkey, Onyekuru was able to find his groove back and began to bang goals again.
In only 11 matches for the Turkish giant, Onyekuru has found the net’s inside five times with two braces and got the attention of the Nigeria coach once again.
NEW FOUND FORM
He said of his new found form in Turkey referring to the brace he got as a late substitute away to Kayserispor mid March.
“I am very happy. We played a very important match in which we should get three points. We played well and fought well. I am very happy to contribute to my team in this way. Putting Falcao’s assists and the goals I scored together, it was a good win. The important thing here was to contribute to my team and get three points in this important game. I am happy to do this. “The moment I scored I felt like I was returning home. The fans have been very supportive for me to come. I feel very happy to be able to make them happy again, to come back to my house, to have returned home with a goal.
“There are such things in football. Sometimes you can’t start in the first 11 and score a goal. Sometimes you enter the game in the last two minutes and score two goals. This kind of thing can happen in football. ”
Looking back, Onyekuru said he would forever be grateful for the prayers of his mother when he was down.
“I’ve had my fair share of tough times. I would have played at the Russia World Cup if not for injury. I had a rough time at Everton and Monaco, but here I am still standing.”
The 23-year-old arrived at Everton from Belgian club KAS Eupen on the back of a 22-goal season, but was immediately sent on loan to Anderlecht.
That was followed by another loan this time to Turkish side Galatasaray before sealing a permanent move to French club AS Monaco in 2019.
“I think it was sudden and I had no idea about the move,” he added.
“It was all decided between both clubs in two days and I had to rush down to Monaco to complete the transfer.
“Unfortunately I didn’t get much playing time. I think there’s more to it.
“I am not some one to make excuses about life or football, but I think the manager has a different plan and I am probably not in that plan.
“I’ll definitely be leaving in January for football reasons, so I can return to the form I need to be in.”
“Playing in Russia would have boosted my chances of securing his permit to work in the United Kingdom and play for Everton; however the knee injury I suffered while on loan at Anderlecht cost me the World Cup and kicked me out of U.K.”
He was down at that point but he says the prayer of a mother saved him. “I came back to play in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations after winning a double in Turkey but I only got to play in the final game against eventual winner Algeria.
“The tournament left a bitter-sweet taste in my mouth because we finished third in my first competition with Nigeria,” he admitted.
“I was a little bit disappointed because I was in good form, I had just won the league and cup double in Turkey but the coach [Gernot Rohr] had a choice to make.
“Nigeria has several talented players and I understand I will have to continue to fight for a place.
Returning to the Super Eagles and helping to qualify the country for the 2022 AFCON, Onyekuru said has given him a new lease of life in the Nigeria national team.
“My mother is looking down on me now and I know better times are here for me,” Onyekuru concludes.
Source: Sports – Latest Nigeria News, Nigerian Newspapers, Politics
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