Chiedozie Ogbene's humility getting him far: Ireland's John Egan
International friendly: Republic of Ireland v Lithuania (tonight, 7.45pm, Dublin)
IT says everything about Chiedozie Ogbene’s dramatic ascension on the international stage that manager Stephen Kenny would settle for more of the same from his striking ace going forward rather than expecting him to improve even further.
Ogbene, who is the first African-born player to star for the Republic of Ireland, scored a spectacular goal and assisted for the other in the side’s impressive 2-2 draw with Belgium on Saturday.
The 24-year-old Rotherham United man’s name has been on everyone’s lips following his starring role in Dublin last weekend who has now bagged three goals in six international appearances – a ratio the legendary Robbie Keane would be proud of.
Yesterday, John Egan heaped praise on the man of the moment who was at Brentford at the same time as the former Cork City player.
"I was at Brentford when he signed so I already knew what ‘Chieo’ was about when he came into the squad in the summer,” said Egan. “He has been a breath of fresh air, on and off the pitch.
"He's a special person, really humble and hard-working. He came in, got his chance, grabbed it with both hands and it's fair to say his performances have been unbelievable, really, since he's come into the team.
"Another goal on Saturday will only do him the world of good for his confidence. He is a really top man and has shown everybody what a top player he is."
Ogbene contacted Stephen Kenny about declaring for the Republic and since he made his international debut in a scoreless draw against Hungary last summer he hasn’t looked back, finding the net in games against Azerbaijan, Luxembourg and now Belgium.
His family arrived in Ireland from Nigeria in 2005 where Ogbene was soon introduced to Gaelic football, lining out for Nemo Rangers and was actually on Cork’s radar before he threw his lot in with soccer.
After spells with Cork City and Limerick, he earned a move to Brentford in 2018 before settling at League One leaders Rotherham United where he currently plays in a wing-back role.
Keith Andrews believes Ireland’s new sensation has the qualities and mentality to play at a higher level than League One.
"I think he's capable of doing anything he wants to do,” said Ireland's assistant manager.
"He's certainly shone. He's been a breath of fresh air on and off the pitch. As a human being, he's a special young man. We're delighted to have him in and to see him flourish."