The Super Eagles defensive kingpin won the 2013 African Cup of Nations aged just 19 and now admits that the desire to play an active role in the 2019 edition was a key factor in his choice of a club when he considered leaving Chelsea.
Kenneth Omeruo enjoyed three different loan spells in Turkey, but in August 2018, he decided to move to Spain’s CD Leganes on a season-long loan instead, ahead of last year’s AFCON tournament.
A superb season in La Liga saw Omeruo feature in all of the Cucumber Growers’ league matches bar one, helping them maintain their top-flight status.
Playing that often in Spain’s Primera Division confirmed Omeruo’s rating as a top defender, and he ended up partnering Udinese’s William Troost-Ekong at the heart of the Super Eagles defence in Egypt.
Nigeria eventually made a positive impression in Egypt, finishing the event as the continent’s third-best team with Omeruo playing six of the seven games played by the Gernot Rohr-led side.
The 26-year-old confesses that he enjoyed his stay in the Turkish Super Liga, but his desire to participate and play a crucial role in Egypt 2019 made him secure a move to a bigger league.
“I would have loved to stay back in Turkey,” Omeruo told the Nations Online.
“Because I got regular play (time) there too, but I think the main difference is that Turkish league is not being shown on TV and this time I knew the Nations Cup was coming, and I knew there was a lot of competition in the national team as well.
“So I had to be in a league where I will be watched. A league where they won’t just say ‘you did well, but it’s the Turkish Super Lig’.
“And that was one of the reasons I made the decision to join Leganes, and I have been happy since I came in. I didn’t miss many games.”