My birthday wish is for the Europa League to be won. Samuel Chukwueze discloses

Via their collaboration with LaLiga, recently hosted a discussion with LaLiga Santander and Villarreal CF player, Samuel Chukwueze, on a variety of topics. Victor Ogunyinka brings extracts from an interview session in which he discussed football and his journey in LaLiga.

My first sporting memories as a teen

When I was younger, it was all about street football and street tournaments. I recall playing with the older kids who would pick me for their team when I was eight years old. When I used to dribble by two or three people, they would hit me on the back, so those are the memories I have from my childhood.

What era did you think you could make a professional football career?

I went to the Iber Cup when I was 14 years old, I believe. I was the tournament’s top goal scorer, competing against young players from European clubs Sevilla FC and RCD Espanyol, and that’s when I realised I should take this football thing seriously.

Football heroes as a kid

I recall seeing Jay-Jay Okocha and Nwankwo Kanu when I was younger in Nigeria. Every kid in Nigeria was watching them, and they were two of my childhood heroes.

A piece of advice for aspiring Nigerian footballers

The only advice I can give them is to work hard and be careful, both on and off the field. The most important thing is to concentrate on where they are going. They should abandon their desire for money in favour of a desire to work hard. All else would fall into place if they do this.

This is your first appearance in Nigeria.

I didn’t believe it the first time I heard, “you have been invited to the Nigerian national team.” When I called my mother and told her, “Mum, I’ve been invited to the national team,” she was overjoyed. I called my brother, who was overjoyed as well. It was a wonderful experience; it was a dream come true for me. I had just recently broken into Villarreal CF’s first team when they invited me; I couldn’t believe it. It was simply incredible!

Why is Umuahia so wealthy on all fronts?

My heart is in Umuahia, and I believe it is said in the Bible. This state is mentioned in the Bible because God blessed this town, Umuahia, which is why amazing and great people come from there.

Santander LaLiga
Is there any difference after three seasons in LaLiga?

Moving from Nigeria to play in Europe for Villarreal CF has changed my perspective on football; previously, I saw football as a right to attack, dribble, and entertain the fans. I believe I now understand what it means to be tactically trained, to know when to strike and when to defend. I believe my overall understanding of the game has vastly improved.

Villarreal CF’s most talented teammate

It has to be Santi Cazorla, a talented player who can play with both feet. He is unique and very talented.

Teams that have surprised this season in LaLiga

Cádiz CF and Atlético de Madrid are two teams that have surprised me this season. Cádiz CF, in particular, has some excellent players. They defeated Real Madrid C.F. at the Alfredo Di Stéfano. They also defeated FC Barcelona, two teams that are difficult to defeat. They are actually really fine, both tactically and in terms of how they play, in my opinion.

Satander is a youngster to keep an eye on in LaLiga.

LaLiga has a plethora of talented players. At Villarreal CF, you have Bryan Gil, Ansu Fati, and Yeremi Pino to choose from. Yeremi is a great player. He’s a young lad with pace and skill, and most importantly, he works very hard.

This season’s standout player in LaLiga Santander

For me, I’d like to mention my teammate Gerard Moreno, who has been outstanding since LaLiga re-launched. He’s scored a lot of goals and still plays well.

Create a mental image of your perfect footballer.

I’m going to go with Zinedine Zidane for football intelligence, Cristiano Ronaldo for power, and Lionel Messi for feet.

Best wishes for your birthday

I’d like you to tell me that I’m going to win the UEFA Europa League, please! Thank you for your interest in the UEFA Europa League.

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