Chiedozie Ogbene thanked Republic of Ireland boss Stephen Kenny for believing in him after marking his rise to the international stage with the first senior goal for his country.
he 24-year-old Rotherham winger came off the bench in Baku to score the final goal in a 3-0 World Cup qualifier victory over Azerbaijan that finally ended Kenny’s wait for a first competitive victory at the 13th hour of questioning.
It was only Ogbene’s second cap in his debut in a friendly draw with Hungary in June making him the first African-born player to represent Ireland at senior level.
it was a special night for me and my family, and the team and the countryChiedozie Ogbene
Asked about his goal, which came in the 90th minute at Baki Olympics Stadium, he said: “When I reached my first goal, it was huge, I sacrificed a lot, my family and my friends.
“I owe the gaffer for believing in me because the lot we have, anyone can come at any moment and for him to believe in me and take me, it was a special night for me and my family. , and the team and the country. “
Ogbene is one of seven players in the current squad currently playing in his League One trade and he admits the step up to international football is significant.
However, he was thrilled that he was given the opportunity to take it and determined to reward Kenny for his faith.
He said: “I believe in myself, I believe in my abilities and I guess I didn’t come here by luck.
“The manager has been watching me for months and years and he clearly believes my qualities are important to the team.
“When I was on the pitch, it was obviously very different from club football. It’s the highest level of football and I’ve always been dreaming.”
Ogbene’s contribution proved to be the icing of the cake after Callum Robinson ended a turbulent week with a first-half double to put guests in the driver’s seat.
The West Brom striker spent the days leading up to the game facing criticism after it was revealed he had not been vaccinated against Covid-19 despite twice testing positive for the virus.
More generally, the result and performance have eased the pressure on Kenny, who has only won one of his first 16 games as manager – a friendly against Andorra – and has seen hope in Republican qualification.
Ogbene said: “Obviously the mood was high in the dressing room, 3-0 away from home was a great result for us, for the manager and the country. It was an overdue result.
“We’ve all made a lot of sacrifices and we’ve taken a lot of criticism towards it, and I feel we deserve it. We deserve to be happy and we need to maximize the occasion and enjoy it to the fullest.”