Popular Nigeria ragga artist, Chinagorom Onuoha, talks on Arsenal only way of winning EPL title and how Eagles defeat at the USA ‘94 put him in depression and more in this interview with EBENEZER BAJELA
Did you play football as a kid?
Yes, I played football while growing up but I had to stop being a fan of football after the USA ’94 because then I had an injury which prevented me from playing.
Would you have chosen football as a profession if you had not sustained that injury?
No, I never wanted to play football as a professional. I was just playing for fun back then.
With so much money involved, why didn’t you try?
The thing is back in those days, we did most of the things we do not because of money. It is nowadays that people do some certain things because of money. It was strictly for the love of the game. It helps take away sorrows and sadness. For instance, the song I sing helps to take away misery and my pains. It makes me feel alive and that’s exactly what sports do for some people too. So, I wasn’t playing football then for money but for the love that I have for it. And that’s exactly what happened with my music career. I didn’t started singing because of money but the money later came.
You just said music and football takes away pain and sorrow, is there a relationship between both?
Yes, there is. Some people have passion for this football that they find it difficult to be themselves when their team loses. They go as far as making the pain from the defeat affect their families and those with bad tempers will go home and beat up their wives just because their team lost. That is the passion about the game that I am talking about. When they win, it makes them come alive and if feels as if something is missing when they lose. Many can’t even control themselves to the point that they shouldn’t allow the game affect their family. It is something that they grew up with and now that they are married, they forgot that they are married and still bring those attitudes home. That is what having passion for football can do to you. And sometimes, it is like that with you watching your favourite artiste perform.
Have you ever cried after watching a football match?
I have cried several times but the most painful one was the Nigeria game in USA ’94 when we lost to Italy. I was so depressed after the game…(speaks pidgin) please let’s not talk about it because it still hurt anytime I remember that game.
How about your memorable moment?
That was Atlanta ’96, I remembered shouting on the street, running round and singing because we won the tournament. I could remember some of my friends fell sick after that scenario. I want to believe that was when Nigerians were so passionate about football in the country. During the era of late Rashidi Yekini, Daniel Amokachi and the rest, things were different back then.
Are you saying things are not the way they use to be?
The problem is Nigeria politics is affecting our football. We see our football like our politicians now because they have turned it into a cabal and that has taken away the passion that we have for the game.
Have you witnessed anything in that direction?
Yes I have. I have witnessed it and I have my own experience in our local league. I could remember trying to help a boy who came to me for assistance because he knew I have a particular coach’s contact ( I am not going to mention the coach’s name), I called him and told him that I have a young lad who will like to be given a chance to play football. Then I told him to access the boy and give his verdict if he is good enough to play for them. But his response was, “does the boy have a backup?” I told him to make me understand and he said someone that will finance him. I said what about me but he said that’s not something I can do and it dawned on me that it has to do with bribe. Because the kind of money he will request from me, obviously I am not going to bring it out. I tried to force him to say it but he kept beating around the bush until he stopped picking up my calls. This and many more are the things affecting our football and I don’t want to develop high blood pressure over this matter.
Does that mean you don’t support any football club?
I am an Arsenal fan and my wife is a Chelsea fan. And I remember we had a quarrel when I travelled abroad and bought Arsenal jerseys and wrote our names on them. She got so angry because she thought I should have bought her a Chelsea jersey. Then I told her that we won’t allow our love for different club sides bring division into our home.
How were you able to overcome that?
We both got busy and we didn’t really have time for football again, so it became difficult for us to sit together and watch Arsenal and Chelsea play. The only thing we do together now is to play ‘ludo’ which unexplainable she always gets to win.
Do you get teased by friends when Arsenal don’t win?
They do make jest of me but I don’t allow it to get at me. It was when they noticed that I don’t allow whatever they say to get at me that they had to stop. Most times, they expect me to react but I just laugh over it. I don’t know why they do it but I guess they derive fun from it.
Do you see Arsenal winning the EPL title soon?
I am a true Arsenal fan but I have to be honest with you and the readers, Arsenal are just entertainers and I don’t see them winning any title soon. Arsenal will only win title if pastors like T.B Joshua, Bishop Oyedepo and Chris Oyakhilome will see vision at the same time and fast for the club. In short, they can’t win anything in the next 10 years.
Many Arsenal fans won’t like this coming from you
(Speaks Pidgin) it’s up to them if they chose to like it or not, but I have spoken the truth. After all, they will only curse me and rest and we will still see each other and play. Laughs
Which other sport do you follow passionately?
I am a very good snooker player. If I go to any house party and I see a snooker table, I want to play and challenge everyone present there to be champion.
There was a musical video of yours where you were playing basketball. Many would have thought that you are a basketball player.
That’s very true. There was a time I was learning how to play basketball because I love the game so much because of the swags, movement and the dunking. Those were things that thrilled me about the game.
Why did you stop learning it?
Sound Sultan was actually the person who was suppose to teach me how to play basketball because he is very good and passionate about it but whenever he is going for training, I am either busy doing something else. The practice time was always clashing with my other agendas and we couldn’t really practice together and I don’t want to do it alone because it is fun when you have someone to spar with. I also do little of martial art.