Chiedozie Ogbene: Rotherham are aware I want to reach next level

'I am quite happy at Rotherham but they know I am quite ambitious and aware of me wanting to reach the next level'
Chiedozie Ogbene: Rotherham are aware I want to reach next level

23 May 2022; Chiedozie Ogbene during the launch of the INTERSPORT Elverys FAI Summer Soccer Schools at the FAI Headquarters in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Irish fans had already fallen head over heels in love with Chiedozie Ogbene before his spectacular bicycle kick goal against Belgium.

Since that third goal of his international career was scored eight weeks ago, the list of admirers of the Cork native has swelled too.

Reported interest from Swansea City is tempting, he admits, but he’ll park a decision on his club future until after Ireland’s upcoming Uefa Nations League quadruple-header.

What he has promised Rotherham United is his commitment to at least begin their preparations for life back in the Championship.

Unsurprisingly, they triggered a 12-month extension to Ogbene’s contract after he was instrumental to their promotion from League One and EFL Cup triumph at Wembley.

That paperwork won’t count for much if a richer hawker tables a bid in the coming weeks that suits all parties.

With recruitment guru Rob Scott, who engineered the capture of Ogbene for both Brentford and Rotherham, a target himself for Swansea, it appears inevitable his current employers will be contacted.

The player himself wasn’t dismissing the possibility either, admitting Swansea’s stature as a club with realistic designs on competing for promotion next season is appealing.

Conversely, Rotherham are the ultimate yo-yo club; spending the last five seasons either suffering relegation or enjoying promotion.

Millers Chairman Tony Stewart is adamant a different approach will be adopted this time to ensure they avoid another swift Championship exit.

“My future is unknown but right now I am a Rotherham United player,” said Ogbene, leaving the escape door wide open.

“I am quite happy at Rotherham but they know I am quite ambitious and aware of me wanting to reach the next level.

“They have said that if someone gives me the opportunity to operate at the level I want to, they won't stand in the way.

“Every player wants to be at a stable and established club - especially a big one like Swansea City.

“At this stage of my career, it’s really important to be playing games and at the highest level I can get to.” 

Marrying those two objectives highlights his conundrum.

Stay where he is and the right-wing back spot is his to lose whereas there’s no guarantee he’d be on the opposite flank to compatriot Ryan Manning, supplying the service to another, Michael Obafemi, at Swansea. 

The compromise could be making the move based on him switching to the preferred advanced role he occupies for Ireland.

“I’m not going to settle to be a bench-warmer somewhere else,” he asserts as a redline issue.

“I left Brentford chasing game-time. That’s my philosophy and I don’t want to change it now just because it’s a big club.

“If a club were interested, I would sit down with their manager to see if I fit his plans and style of play; discover the platform he’d give me to improve as a man and player.

“There has to be a balance, in terms of the right club and level. Rotherham were unfortunate to get relegated the last time. The manager knows what’s at stake and what they need to do.

“I can’t say what the future holds but I’m confident we have the team at Rotherham to stay up if we were to go for it. We have proved people wrong before.” 

Scoring such a spectacular goal against the nation then ranked first in the world has broadened Ogbene’s name to places he never imagined.

This time 12 months ago, he’d yet to win the first of his eight caps, not that he’s forgotten his roots. Visits to his former school and clubs in Cork were his first priorities when spending downtime back in Grange recently. He visited Bunscoil Chríost Rí and Corinthians.

“My profile has massively improved since playing for Ireland but I don’t want to use that as an excuse not to be called upon,” explained the first-ever African born player to represent Ireland at senior level.

“I chose to go into my school and childhood club. I know when I was a kid, I would have wished for my idols and the players I look up to call in.

“You have to use these great responsibilities. That’s the way my mother’s raised me and this is who I am.”

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