Three Nigerian-born youngsters are heading closer to spots in Italy’s senior national team, as they all already have sterling statistics in active duty with the European country’s junior squad and keep excelling with their various clubs in the Italian Serie A.
This is the story of the trio of trio of Juventus defender, Paolo Gozzi Iweru, Hellas Verona winger, Destiny Iyenoma Udogie and Atalanta midfielder, Caleb Memeh Okoli, who all continue making waves in the junior cadres of their respective clubs and with Italy’s age-grade teams.
Megasportsarena.com gathered that, of the threesome, Udogie was most recently in the news, as he starred for Hellas Verona in last Sunday’s shock 1-1 draw away to SSC Napoli, which stopped Victor Osimhen’s club from picking a ticket into the UEFA Champions League.
Udogie’s latest time under the sun comes soon after he joined the other two in the Italian under-20 national team, such that all three are now being rated by many analysts as the next set of Nigerian-born players to follow the footsteps of Stefano Chuka Okaka and Angelo Obinze Ogbonna in playing for Italy at full senior level.
Such it was that they were all early this year part of Italy’s under-20 national team coach, Alberto Bollini’s 30-player roster for a training camp at CPO in Tirrenia, with three Nigeria-eligible players part of the group.
Udogie and Iweru were joined by Okoli for the training camp that was arranged to help the Italians prepare for the European Championship qualifiers against Norway, Iceland and Slovenia which was earlier postponed as a result of coronavirus pandemic.
Iweru, who has made his first team debut for Juventus, has racked up more than 40 appearances for Italy’s youth teams and was one of the stars of the 2018 U17 EURO held in England, while 19-year-old Okoli is knocking on Atalanta’s first team door.
The troika was born in Torino, Vicenza and Verona respectively, making them eligible to play international football for Italy. but the youngest of the trio is Udogie, who was an influential member of the Italian squad that reached the quarter-finals of the FIFA U17 World Cup in Brazil.
Udogie, who will fancy his chances of being a first-team regular at Verona next season, created another buzz this past Sunday when he starred as substitute in the 1-1 draw away to SSSC Napoli, thereby cementing his chances for the future with the Verona-based side.
The 18-year-old was in various matchday squads in the just concluded Serie A campaign, making five appearances and replaced injured Pawel Dawidowicz four minutes before half-time against Osimhen’s side last weekend, to set more tongues wagging about his potentials.
Udogie, who got his professional debut against AC Milan at the age of 17, is highly rated by the crew at Hellas Verona, having made an impact for the youth teams before gaining promotion into the first team fold.
After netting nine goals and five assists in 41 appearances, Udogie has been described as an extremely talented full-back blessed with pace, physicality and athletic prowess, which have seen him notch 29 international appearances for Italy’s U16, U17, U18 and U19 national teams.
On May 17, 2019, Udogie scored the most important goal of his career to date after his 81st minute game-winner saw Italy beat France 2-1 at Tallaght Stadium in Dublin, Ireland and qualify for the 2019 European U17 Championship.
It was the first goal scored by the left-back for the Italian national teams after 13 appearances in total for the U16s and U17s, following which he became the second player of Nigerian descent to feature for Italy in two consecutive U17 EURO finals, taking after Iweru.
Dramatically, renowned Italian football guru, transfer market expert and pundit, Gianluca Di Marzio recently revealed that Everton failed with a multi-million bid for Udogie, with the youngster instead committing his long-term future to Hellas.
Udogie is now earnestly knocking on the door of the Italian senior national team, following his breakthrough in the top-flight Serie A league this season and a report by HITC Football noted: “(He) was always likely to be one-for-the-future.
“Everton have made a seven-figure bid, as have French giants Monaco, but it seems the Italian has no plans to leave his homeland just yet. Instead, Udogie has signed a new long-term contract which is due to keep him in Verona until 2022.”