Super Eagles striker Henry Onyekuru recently signed for Everton after emerging as one of the top performers in Europe last season.
The 20-year-old, who will spend next season on loan at Anderlecht, tells Completesportsnigeria.com's JOHNNY EDWARD the role his mother has played in his career and vows to fire Anderlecht and the Super Eagles to glory…
You eventually joined the legion of Nigerian players on the books of an English Premier League club with your move to Everton. Why did you opt for Everton considering the plethora of clubs eager to sign you?
At the end of last season there were so many offers for me and at that time I stopped discussing transfers because I almost got confused. It took me a couple of weeks to make a decision because I did not want to rush into making one but I'm happy where I am.
Everton had the best plan for me as a young player who is still developing. It was easy for me because I spoke with the coach Ronald Koeman and his long-term plans swayed me.
He is a coach that believes in youth and that is evident in the major signings he has made so far. Since January we've been on it and that was why I went AWOL trying to force my move, but it was resolved and I'm happy every party kept to their word.
But you will wait at least for a year before donning playing for Everton?
That's good for me and I am patient. I will develop more into a great player playing for another big side like Anderlecht.
Last season was phenomenal for you. In 32 games in all competitions you scored 22 goals providing 11 assists. For a player who could play as a winger and as a forward did you imagine you could score that much?
When I joined KAS Eupen two years ago I struggled to adapt but I tried to learn how to play comfortably with the qualities I have. The first six games were tough; I didn't score but that came to an end when Eupen beat RFC Seraing 3-0.
I scored six goals in four games and I scored a brace against KSK Heist. I experienced my longest goal drought ever afterwards but thank God the next season when Eupen gained promotion I was ready and thank God I did not disappoint.
I want to do more than I did last year with Anderlecht this season in the league and the UEFA Champions League, scoring more goals and finishing among the top scorers.
Certainly the goals you scored last season for KAS Eupen will see defenders pay more attention to you and attempt to stop you where necessary in every game. Mentally and psychologically how prepared are you to face this battle?
I know defenders will come harder at me this time around but nothing has changed, it's this same football. I will work harder to do more that I did last year.
Those exploits also earned you a debut call-up to the Super Eagles. Did you expect that at that time and if yes how did you settle in?
Not really, but I knew it was just a matter of time. It was a great feeling for me and the experienced players helped me settle in quickly. Everyone in the team from the players, coaches and the backroom staff showed me love and that helped me a lot. Those encouraging words kept me going.
No doubt you were disappointed not to have made the matchday day squad for the game against South Africa which Nigeria lost 2-0. How did you feel?
I felt bad because we lost, not that I didn't play. It's a collective effort but I believe we will be back stronger in subsequent games.
The game against Cameroon is another herculean task for the Super Eagles. How confident are you that the Eagles will win to boost her chances of qualification for the World Cup?
I'm looking forward to that game against Cameroon. That game is crucial to our hopes of qualifying for Russia 2018. I'm confident we will beat them.
Who has been the biggest influence in your career?
My mother has been my back bone since I was young. Words cannot express how I feel and how grateful I am for what she did for me. She kept encouraging me when things were very rough at the start of my career in Senegal. I know some parents would have told me to go back to school but she stayed patient with me and the fruit is what we all are reaping now. I hope she is happy seeing me play.