Nigerian striker Izunna Uzochukwu speaks about his love for afrobeat and jazz music as well as how he met his Ivorian wife in this interview with JOHNNY EDWARD

If not football, what other sports would you have done?

I would have probably become a banker because I was so good with mathematics and accounting growing up then, but football has always been my plan A and when it clicked, the dream to become a banker died.

What do you do before and after a game?

I try to get some time for myself aside from the team talks, to pray and get more information about our opponent. Also, I listen to music that inspires me a lot.

What kind of music do you like?

It depends on my mood, actually, I listen to afro-beats, soul, jazz, Nigerian music and lately nice French songs because my wife is an Ivorian.

Who’s the toughest opponent you’ve played against?

Simon Kjaer was a tough opponent for me. During our years in FC Midtjylland U-19 he was always my opposition and was very tough.

Would you refer to yourself as a stylish person or a fashionista?

I am not really a fashionista but I love to dress to appeal. Like the saying goes dress the way you want to be addressed.

What’s your favourite meal?

I love rice and spiced stew and a bit of beef.

How did you meet your wife?

I met her through a teammate, an Ivorian while I was playing for OB Odense in Denmark. Her name is Carol, who is an Ivorian as well. The first time I saw her, I had cold feet as I couldn’t say anything to her other than ‘Hola’. It was terrible. Our second meeting days later was perfect. When we saw each other again, it was then we could talk in a relaxed atmosphere, outside of the football environment.

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Sometimes, you meet someone and you just have a different feeling. Week after week, I slowly started to learn some French, so as to win her heart completely. She thought that was funny but it wasn’t. Her place was close to a coffee shop in Odense and so to see her, I would need to stop by to pass time and see her. I was drinking so much coffee and it was so ridiculous. I probably asked her out 20 or 30 times. She never said no, but she was always giving excuses that she had to work and then go to bed.

Are you a lover of designer clothes and shoes?

I’m a big lover of designers. In fact, all my clothes since I started playing football are designers except for the native fabrics which I often wear.

How do you relax and unwind?

I watch movies, listen to music or sleep and sometimes I play FIFA with friends.

Who is your celebrity crush?

Serena Williams. She’s an icon in tennis and I adore the achievements she has recorded in the sports. I also love Andy Murray and the sensation Emma Raducanu.

What’s your dream car and what brand of car do you drive now?

A Maserati and the current car I drive is an Audi Q5.

Do you love fast cars or just comfortable cars?

I love durable ones particularly. I have to be very comfortable in the cars I’m in. It doesn’t necessarily have to be super fast.

Who is your favourite musician and what song is your current favourite?

I have a couple of artists I listen to at the moment. Davido, Burna Boy, Omay Lay, Buju, Fire Boy and not forgetting my brother Small Doctor. Nigeria at the moment is blessed with very good and talented music stars. We see how good they’re doing on a global stage and I can wait for them to break the ceiling with awards for what they do.

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What’s your thought on the current EndSARS protest remembrance?

Police brutality should be stopped and the perpetrators should be brought to justice.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you love parties?

(Laughs) I’m not a party freak but I attend when I’m invited. Sometimes you just want to unwind after a stressful time and loud music helps so once in a while.

Who is your favourite between Messi and Ronaldo?

Both players have been outstanding in the last decade but I love Lionel Messi. Ronaldo is an amazing footballer and a goal-getter but Messi just makes football look easy. He is out of this world.

Who’s your best teammate?

Riliwan Hassan and Paul Onuachu. They are very fantastic players on the pitch and off the pitch, they’re guys you can call your family.

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