Squad news


31 Aug 2017
Francis Uzoho conceded an interview to La Voz de Galicia. The Nigerian keeper was one of the positive notes from the pre-season as Pepe Mel sees him as the third keeper of Depor. He explained how he arrived to A CoruŮa.

Q: How did you start your career?
A: I started to play football when I was very young, in the street, with my friends. Until I was 13 I didnít take it seriously. I played in a small academy and we were pretty good. At 14, I got an agent from Aspire agency and was selected within a group of 50 to do a test in Qatar. At first, I was a striker, but at 12 the coach I had told me, "You're very tall and not very fast, so maybe you'd better trying to be a goalkeeper." Luckily, I learned fast, in two years I was already recruited for the academy. And after playing as a forward it makes me to have a better control of the ball with my foot. Sometimes I miss playing in attack.

Q: You spent four years at the academy. A huge change.
A: It was incredible. Qatar was completely opposite to where I came from. At first, I missed my parents, but in Africa we cannot afford it, because it complicates adaptation. We have to grow fast. After the first six months, it was somewhat outdated. They came to visit me in Senegal a couple of weeks ago.

Q: You also grew up quickly. You, like others, have raised doubts about your age.
A: We have to live with that. They make jokes about the subject, and at first it affected me, but I practice a sport in which you have to be mentally strong, so now I just laugh. Yes, I am tall and strong; In the changing room of the Depor, when I arrived, they also annoyed me with the age, but now no, itís overcome.

Q: What brought you to Depor?
A: I came to Spain to do some training with Aspire and after finishing a tournament in Barcelona my agent told me: "There is an important team that wants to sign you." He didnít tell me the name and two months later it was when he told me which club wanted me: Deportivo. Immediately I remembered my days playing Play Station One in Nigeria; So, I met Depor. It was an important team in that game. I had a huge joy. A club with such an important history! It made me so happy.

Q: And you came here. How did you live it?
A: It was incredible, incredible. I made the way from the airport to the residence looking out the window and hallucinating. I had seen on the internet that it was a small town, but this wasnít at all what I expected. A CoruŮa is such a beautiful city, so incredible. And then the first day I started to train with Juvenil A, I remember it was at night and when I finished I was told that the next day I would train with the first team. I just didnít believe it. I said, "Oh my God." It seemed impossible. Suddenly I was working with Poroto [Lux], with Tytoń, with Ruben. People I had seen on TV. And I was not just looking at them, I was training with them. That moment... I cannot say what I felt at that moment. I was so nervous. Training with the big people. From the second week on, I started to enjoy it more, and now I feel part of the team. I'm not afraid anymore. Manu Sotelo and David, the goalkeeping coach of Fabril, make me feel at home. I'm so happy.

Q: But you donít play. How's it going?
A: Of course it's important to play to develop my skills and gain confidence, but in Nigeria, when I started, I was my team's third choice. The following year was already the first option. And with the national team, in the World U-17 tournament, I didnít leave the bench. I just know I have to keep working hard until the opportunity comes.

Q: Mel seems to be convinced. He spoke wonders about you.
A: I heard for the companions at the residence. It was another beautiful moment for me. That the coach of the first team says something like that it means that they recognize the work you do and that only encourages you to try harder.

Q: What is your professional objective? Where do you see yourself in a few years?
A: I'd love to spend a lot of time at Deportivo. I'm in love with Depor. Before coming, I was from Manchester United and Real Madrid, but the first day I went to the Riazor, to watch a game against Villarreal, and I listened to the stand, and I felt what it feels like at that stadium... It was a crush. That was my family. And the feeling has only been growing. Where do I see myself in a couple of years? Fighting for a spot in the goal of Depor. Maybe I'm not ready yet, but that's how I see myself in two years.

Q; What should you improve?
A: I think the most I have to improve is something I inherited from handball. A gesture I make at an inappropriate distance. It's the same as De Gea does in the heads-up, but I still do it when the rival is too far.

Q: And what do you think are your strengths?
A: The game with the foot and my reaction to distant shots. Those are my strong ones.

Q: Your height is perfect for the aerial game.
A: That's what everyone thinks. They see me tall and think that I have to go very well in the aerial game, but I still have to improve on that. Well, at 18, I still have to improve a lot on everything.  My father beat me for playing football, and the next day I would go back and play.

Q: Was it difficult to get here?
A: A lot. At first, in my house, they made it almost impossible to be a footballer. I came to think that I would never get it. In my family, the studies were always prioritized. When I returned from playing football, my father beat me; It was hard, but the next day I would run away again to play. I think that it also helped me somehow, it made me grow in my determination. I think I was born to be an athlete. Before playing football. I was a handball goalkeeper and competed nationally. That was what my father liked, because he was attached to the school. Football meant street and he related it to bad company, to smoking, to things like that. We lived in a difficult neighborhood, and yes, there was a lot of that, but I managed to avoid it. So, until I participated in a big tournament organized by Coca Cola and I came back with some money. There he began to accept that it could be a way to make a living. For me football is also that, a way to help my family.

Q: You won that World Cup, but it's hard for African national teams to make the leap. Why do you think that happens?
A: What do I think? I think we lose our hunger. At first, when you are very young, you need to show that you are worthy; Show it to the scouts who are going to be in the final phase of a tournament, for example. Show that you can leave your country to play football. Are you hungry, need?. You empty and give it all. Then they sign you and that's it, you're here, you're no longer in Nigeria playing for survival, for an opportunity. Now you play for other reasons, you relax, and if you donít get far with your national team it isnít so much what you lose. That's how I see it.



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