First Interview: Stephen Eze


The club’s defence is getting stronger with time. After Peter Hartley, the club just roped in the Nigerian National Team defender, Stephen Eze, to bolster their backline.

Post representing his country in the African Nations Championship and Bulgarian top-division club, Lokomotiv Plovdiv in the UEFA Europa League, Stephen is ready to make his India and ISL debut.

Here are a few excerpts from his first interview:


On signing for Jamshedpur FC

First of all, I just want to say a big thank you to the management of Jamshedpur FC, and all the fans for a fantastic welcome. I feel their love!

Secondly, I want to thank the gaffer, Owen Coyle, for giving me the opportunity to learn and play under his tutelage.

To answer your question, after I learned about the club’s interest in me, I looked at their profile on the internet, and the first thing that struck me was the passion of the fans and the stable structure of the club. I thought, “Wow! It would be exciting to play for these guys.” Then, as soon as I spoke to the gaffer, and he told me his plans for the upcoming season, the decision was really easy.


About the conversation with Owen

Our very first conversation was a conference call with him and my agent, and we’ve been in touch ever since. What can I say about the gaffer! You simply have to talk to him to feel his passion and desire.
It is infectious! Like I mentioned already, it didn’t take long for him to convince me; his pedigree and what he has achieved in the game is extraordinary. For me, the chance to work with him everyday is something I don’t want to miss out on. It is a massive opportunity for me to develop personally and professionally, and I thank him again for giving me the chance to work under him.


What made you choose India as your next football destination?

When you see the fans, supporters and the overall structure of the club and of course, an opportunity to play under the boss, Owen Coyle, it’s a no-brainer. The decision making was easy.
His passion, enthusiasm, and the way he explained his plans and vision to me was something impossible to say no to.

I’m a very competitive person. I have a big desire to win and after listening to him, I knew the next steps in my career were with Jamshedpur FC.


On your goals with Jamshedpur FC

I’m very competitive and I hate to lose. I’m coming here to win for the fans. That being said, I believe in approaching everything one step at a time, one game at a time, fight till the end of the season and hopefully make my fans proud.


On forming a partnership with Hartley

Oh wow! I’m super-super excited! Peter Hartley is vastly experienced, a proven winner and someone who has played at a very high level. He’s a leader as well. So, it will be an honour to play alongside him and learn from him. We’ve been in contact and he’s a gentleman as well. I’m so looking forward to working with him and of course the rest of the team.


On your experience of playing in the African Nations Championship under the Nigeria National Team Manager, Gernot Rohr

I’m lucky to have played under some amazing coaches. Coach Rohr and Coach Salisu Yusuf who took us to the CHAN 2018, have been very influential in my development. I will forever be grateful to them. The CHAN tournaments were a big learning experience for me and I’m grateful for the chance I got to play for my country. I hope that one day I get to represent Nigeria again.


On representing a world-cup playing nation like Nigeria

It is massive! Nigeria is a huge footballing nation and to be called upon to wear the Green-White jersey has been the biggest honour and highlight of my career.


On his successful stint of playing in Bulgaria

I had two good years in Bulgaria and enjoyed my time with Lokomotiv Plovdiv. Lokomotiv was my first club in Europe and the Coach of the team, Bruno Akrapovic, made my transition seamless and smooth. He’s a very good person and he helped me a lot. We were fortunate to win the Bulgarian Cup in my first season and we played some memorable games in the Europa League qualifiers as well. I miss the fans and the city of Plovdiv. We had a great run in the league last year where we finished runners-up. The fans and supporters of Lokomotiv will always remain in my heart.


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