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Oguchi Onyewu


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Oguchi Onyewu

 

Oguchialu Chijioke "Oguchi" Onyewu (born May 13, 1982) is an American soccer player who plays as a defender for Sporting Clube de Portugal, in Primeira Liga, and the United States national team. Onyewu also holds a Belgian passport.

Background

Onyewu's parents moved to the United States from Nigeria to study in Washington, D.C. Onyewu has two brothers, Uche and Nonye, and two sisters, Chi-Chi and Ogechi. Growing up in Silver Spring and later Olney, Maryland, Onyewu attended St. Andrew Apostle School and Sherwood High School before enrolling in the U.S. residency program in Bradenton, Florida. He then returning to graduate from Sherwood and went on to play soccer for two years at Clemson. He also holds Belgian citizenship. He speaks English and fluent French.

At 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) and 210 lb (95 kg), Onyewu is the tallest outfield player in U.S. team history (two goalkeepers have been taller).

 

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Club career

Onyewu played two years of college soccer at Clemson University, and moved to Europe in 2002, signing with Metz of Ligue 1 in France. In 2003, he was loaned out to La Louvière in Belgium, and to Standard Liège a year later. The move to Liège was made permanent for the 2004–05 season. After the season, he was named to the Belgian league's Best XI as well as Foreign Player of the Year for 2005.

On December 26, 2006, Onyewu was voted U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year. He was the first defender to earn the award since Alexi Lalas in 1995. Having been the subject of many transfer rumors regarding clubs throughout Europe, Onyewu finally completed a loan deal with Newcastle United on January 30, 2007, covering the remainder of the 2006–07 season. He made his debut for Newcastle against Fulham on February 3, 2007,[8] and his home debut a week later, alongside Titus Bramble, in a 2–1 victory over Liverpool. The two formed an ill-fated partnership, making a number of costly mistakes which was ultimately to cost Onyewu his place. Following the arrival of new manager Sam Allardyce, Onyewu fell out of favor, and Newcastle decided not to make the loan deal permanent.[9] He returned to Standard, and his play continued to improve. He made his 100th Belgian First Division appearance for Standard Liège on March 14, 2008, against Germinal Beerschot, and was an intregal part of the club as they went on a 29-match unbeaten streak to win the 2007–08 Belgian First Division. After the season he was named to the Belgian league Best XI for the second time. His strong form continued during the 2008–09 season. He led the Standard defense to a second consecutive Belgian league title. Standard was drawn with Anderlecht at season's end, and Standard won a two-legged playoff for the championship.

A.C. Milan

Onyewu signed a three-year contract with Milan on July 7, 2009. He made his Milan debut on July 22, coming on as a substitute for Alessandro Nesta in a loss to Club América in the World Football Challenge. He made his competitive debut on September 30, again relieving Nesta in a Champions League loss to Zürich at San Siro. Onyewu missed all the 2009–10 season – appearing in only one Champions League match – due a knee injury suffered while on national team duty. At the end of the season, on May 17, 2010, it was announced that Onyewu's contract with Milan was extended by one season, keeping him under contract with the club through the end of the 2012–13 season; upon Onyewu's request, the one-year extension includes no salary.

On November 5, 2010; Onyewu made international headlines when he and fellow teammate Zlatan Ibrahimović engaged in a fight during training,[16] prior to a league match against Bari. It was reported that Onyewu suffered a reckless tackle from Ibrahimović, causing Onyewu to confront him. Ibrahimović charged towards him, and Onyewu choked the alleged black belt out. The two were separated, though the club reported he and Ibrahimović have made up for their fight.

Twente (loan)

Onyewu left Milan on 11 January 2011, to join Dutch Eredivisie champions Twente on loan for the remainder of the season.

Sporting Clube de Portugal

On June 2011, Oguchi joined Sporting Clube de Portugal signing a three year deal.

Racism controversy

Onyewu has dealt with racism during his time in Europe, even having been punched and shouted at by racist fans while playing for Standard. The most well-publicized incident occurred in the 2008–09 Championship playoff when Anderlecht defender Jelle Van Damme, according to Onyewu, allegedly repeatedly called him a "dirty ape,"[21] even after Onyewu relayed the information to the referees. Van Damme denied the accusations following the match and in return said that Onyewu himself taunted him in a racist way by calling him "dirty Flemish." Approximately two weeks later, on June 2, 2009, it was announced by Onyewu's lawyer that he was suing Van Damme in an effort to end on-field racism in European football.

International career

Onyewu was a mainstay on the United States national team for the 2006 and 2010 World Cup cycles. Prior to this, he also represented the U.S. at various youth levels, including at the 2001 World Youth Championship. He made his first appearance for the senior national team on October 13, 2004, against Panama.

Onyewu scored his first international goal in the 2005 Gold Cup, nodding home the extra time winner in the semifinal against Honduras, and was later named to the tournament Best XI.

Oguchi played for the U.S. in the 2006 World Cup, and started in all three United States games. Just before halftime of the third and final group stage match against Ghana, Onyewu conceded a penalty from which Ghana scored, and the U.S. were eliminated with the resultant 2–1 defeat.

During the 2009 Confederations Cup, Onyewu was paired with Jay DeMerit due to the injury of his normal partner, Carlos Bocanegra, who was unable to play in the group stage. Onyewu played well against Egypt, helping lead the U.S. to a 3–0 win that earned them a berth in the semifinals. He also had a standout performance in the 2–0 semifinal victory over Spain.

In a World Cup qualifier draw against Costa Rica on October 14, 2009, Onyewu suffered a patellar tendon rupture, forcing to miss the rest of qualifying.

During the 2010 World Cup, Onyewu started and played the full 90 minutes in the United States' first group match against England on June 12. During the second group match against Slovenia on June 18, he got his second start but was subbed out in the 80th minute. He did not play in the third group match against Algeria on June 23, nor did he play during their second round meeting against Ghana on June 26.

 

 

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