Osu close to international call-up

A WOKING-born teenager is close to a first call-up to the Nigeria national team.

KJ Osu, 18, started playing football as a seven-year-old for Meadow Sports in Kingfield.

WOKING-born footballer KJ Osu is close to a first call-up to the Nigeria national team

After a rapid rise involving spells in the Fulham and Aldershot Town academies, he then spent seven years with Sky Bet League One side AFC Wimbledon before signing his first senior deal this summer, when he joined Belgian third-tier side KSV Roeselare.

And now the tenacious midfielder wants to go another step further by pulling on the Nigeria shirt.

Although he also qualifies for Italy and England, he aims to play for the country of his father’s birth.

Osu told the News & Mail: “It’s looking possible that I could get a call-up soon to the under-20 side.

“The chief scout at Roeselare is Nigerian and he has connections with the Nigerian federation.

“And my Nigerian passport has just come through, meaning I can now officially play for Italy, England or Nigeria. But Nigeria is the most likely at the moment.

“There are qualifying games later in the year for the [2021] under-20 World Cup [in Indonesia], so if I can get in the team and play in that tournament, it would be really good exposure.”

Life has changed hugely for Osu in the last six months.

In March, before the coronavirus pandemic, he was playing youth-level football for Wimbledon and living at home in Knaphill.

But with the Dons not offering him a professional deal – and following a remarkable series of events – he is now living in Belgium, on his own for the first time.

He said: “My girlfriend happened to know an agent who lives in St John’s, and who is affiliated to the club [Roeselare]. And he told me they were looking for players.

“At the time this was happening there were no [coronavirus] travel restrictions, so I managed to travel out OK, did well and then they offered me a contract.

“I trained at some non-League clubs in the UK over the summer, but things seemed to move a bit quicker in Belgium.

“It’s crazy – I could never have pictured myself out here. It’s just really good how things have turned out.”

Osu wants to make his move a success now, and has his own objectives for the campaign ahead.

He said: “I’m aiming to have my spot in the first-team squad by December, and then by the end of the season I want to be playing week in, week out.

“We’re in the third division but we’ve got players who’ve represented France under-21s, Udinese [of Italy’s Serie A] and Watford.

“So we’ve got a really strong team – and once the league season gets going [on 26 September], we’re looking to get promoted.”

For more on this story, get the 17 September edition of the News & Mail

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