AC Alcanenense’s Innocent Ejiofor reveals missing out on Nigeria’s team to the 2015 U17 World Cup has helped him grow into a man.
Just 15 years of age at the time, the utility defender did not make coach Emmanuel Amuneke’s squad that paraded the likes of Victor Osimhen, Kelechi Nwakali and Samuel Chukwueze.
The Golden Eaglets, after a strong start against the United States of America, went ahead to lift the title for a record fifth time – defeating Mali 2-0 in the final.
In a chat with Goal, the 19-year-old claims he has no regrets about missing out on the tournament – instead, that has made him become mature.
“Missing out of the World Cup was a disappointment for me because that was my first national team experience,” Ejiofor told Goal
“It was hurting but I have no regrets about that because I knew it just wasn’t just my time.
“From my first day in the Golden Eaglets’ camp, I knew that the odds were against me because I was so small when compared with other defenders in the team.
“Then, I kept doing my best to make the World Cup list until I was totally ruled out because of an ankle injury which I won’t blame anyone for.
“It was a good experience for me and that has really helped me grow into a man I am today.
“Playing in Portugal has also improved my game and I’m working round the clock to be at my best so that and when the U20 door opens; I won’t be left out again.”
Like most countries in Europe, the Portuguese league was placed on a hiatus owing to the coronavirus pandemic which has crippled several activities across the globe.
The defender, who is reportedly on the radar of Boavista and Sporting Lisbon, described life in quarantine and how he has been keeping fit.
“Life in isolation can be demoralising,” he continued. “I can’t measure how much I miss football because that is my life, nevertheless staying alive is more important.
“There is a big room in my house where I do a lot of training and ball work since lockdowns won’t let us step into the field. That is not enough, but one must be in good shape.
“All I wish is for the Portuguese league to resume again and have that opportunity to reunited with my teammates and coaches again.”