Nemo Rangers to professional soccer: Chiedozie Ogbene always had the talent

'In my view, there’d be no doubt he’d have been a Cork senior footballer for a couple of years already if he stuck at GAA.'
Nemo Rangers to professional soccer: Chiedozie Ogbene always had the talent

Nemo Rangers' Chiedozie Ogbene wins the ball from Mallow's Mattie Taylor in 2014. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

NOW currently undertaking his footballing trade with English Football League side Rotherham United, Chiedozie Ogbene showed glimpses of his potential on the international stage for the Republic Of Ireland in the friendly a few months ago against Hungary.

Coming on as a substitute in Budapest, Ogbene made an eye-catching impact and showcased glimpses of the electric pace he has to offer.

As Stephen Kenny looks to rebuild Irish football, Ogbene could play a vital role in that development project.

Those who know him on Leeside will be all too aware of the talent the 24-year-old has in his locker.

Ogbene played GAA with Nemo Rangers, in conjunction with forging his path in the world of soccer while playing underage at Cork City.

Such were his impressive performances, it is understood at the time around 2016 that the Cork U21 footballers were keen to get him on board.

Chiedozie only fully committed to professional soccer at 18 years of age when breaking into the City first team, with a spell at Limerick forging the pathway to a playing career in England.

While playing Gaelic Football, Ogbene won the 2014 Cork U21 Football Championship with Nemo Rangers, starting in the decider against Ballincollig.

Ogbene also helped his school Coláiste Chríost Rí to secure the 2015 Simcox Cup , following an extra time victory over Rochestown College.

Nemo and Cork footballing stalwart Paul Kerrigan, who coached and taught him in Coláiste Chríost Rí , told The Echo about his memories of Ogbene playing GAA.

Chiendozie Ogbene, Nemo Rangers, runs past Dylan Kirstein, Ballincollig. Picture. Jim Coughlan.
Chiendozie Ogbene, Nemo Rangers, runs past Dylan Kirstein, Ballincollig. Picture. Jim Coughlan.

“He always stood out when he played and he was so athletic. I had him in the school when I came in first with the U16s. I had him for two years there and he was a class apart in terms of athleticism.

He was a really nice kid and a lot of the younger students looked up to him. He was a real positive fella around the school.

“Between seeing him with the school and with the club, he just really always stood out as a top-class player. I also thought he was a really intelligent player for Gaelic Football.

“He had a good understanding positionally and he was an unbelievable tackler. From coaching young fellas, he is probably one of the best tacklers I’ve come across.

“He was always a standout player in any game he played. Be it school or club, he was always one of the best, if not the best players.

“When he was home during the summer, you’d have met him in the gym at Nemo. One summer, I was away with Cork, but he trained away with our (Nemo Rangers) seniors doing the running.

“In the school, he’d have been pulled from pillar to post, be it cross-country, he might play a bit of basketball or be it with us in the GAA. He was a prized asset and so talented, everyone wanted a piece of him.

FIRST LOVE

“With Nemo you were hoping he’d stick with us. But soccer was always his first love from teaching him anyway and talking to him.” Kerrigan added:

“Taking on a man and going past him as if it was nothing. Whether it was GAA or soccer, there were definitely shades of that when he came on for Ireland recently.

“In my view, there’d be no doubt he’d have been a Cork senior footballer for a couple of years already if he stuck at GAA. He was really good.” 

Ireland women’s international and current Shelbourne attacker Saoirse Noonan played GAA at Nemo Rangers like her childhood friend Ogbene, Noonan has spoken about playing Gaelic Football with Nemo helped both her and Ogbene in their development to now as soccer players.

Last weekend Ogbene made a return from injury for Rotherham in their clash against Fleetwood Town.

Ogbene won a penalty for his side, which was converted by former Cork City man Kieran Sadlier.

Although the game ended in defeat, Ogbene will hope to continue playing a key role for the team in the coming months, as Rotherham seek to secure a straight return to the English Championship.

As he hopes to impress for both club and for Ireland over the coming years, those out in Nemo Rangers know very well what Chiedozie Ogbene is capable of.

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