Đặng Amaobi now spends time in training young players in HCM City and also works for several television stations as a football pundit. — Photo courtesy of Đặng Amaobi
After nearly 18 years of living in Việt Nam, retired Nigerian footballer Amaobi Honest Uzowuru has found his second home.
Born in 1981 in Nigeria, Uzowuru first played in the V.League 1 in 2004 and enjoyed a successful career. He gained Vietnamese citizenship in 2011 and began going by Đặng Amaobi.
Following his retirement in 2016, Amaobi decided to stay in Việt Nam instead of returning home like many other foreign footballers. He spends time training young players in HCM City and also works for several television stations as a pundit.
“I played for seven different teams in Việt Nam and I liked them all, however, Nam Định were the team I loved the most and they still have a big connection with me till now,” Amaobi told Việt Nam News.
“Personally, I don't have regrets during the time playing in Việt Nam because I won trophies, scored goals and made a good living from playing football so I am happy for that opportunity.
“The V.League 1 is changing and improving, the players are more informed and educated about the modern game and they are becoming more professional. I see the gap between local players and foreign players is becoming very close,” Amaobi added.
Amaobi was introduced to Vietnamese football through his agent while he was playing in South Africa.
After joining Nam Định in 2004, Amaobi helped his team finish second and was the league's top scorer with 15 goals.
“After my first successful season with Nam Định, I decided to seek more contracts and to keep playing in the league because I liked the league, food, weather, fans and culture,” said Amaobi.
After the 2004 season, Amaobi became one of the league's best-paid and most coveted foreign stars. He played for seven Vietnamese clubs, including two spells each at Nam Định (2004, 2009), SHB Đà Nẵng (2005, 2008) and Bình Dương (2006-2007, 2010).
“Playing abroad is the dream of every young Nigerian football player. I was lucky to play in so many countries from Europe to Asia and Việt Nam so I have learned so many cultures, experiences and new things about life,” said Amaobi.
Đặng Amaobi (centre) plays for Thanh Hóa in the V.League 1. — Photo bongdaplus.vn
Enjoying life in Việt Nam
Amaobi said that his wife and children currently live and work in South Africa, but he doesn’t go there with his family.
“I have lived and played in Việt Nam for nearly 20 years, so I love this country very much. This place is like my home country Nigeria.
"However, to be honest, if I return to Nigeria or South Africa now, it would be very difficult to find a job and I don’t know what I would do because I only know football.
"Meanwhile, I already have Vietnamese nationality, it's much easier to find a job here and I can follow my passion for football.
"Therefore, my wife and children support me and every year we still see each other regularly during the holidays," Amaobi said.
Amaobi said he feels very comfortable living in Việt Nam because the people are friendly, the country is safe, it's easy to live in, and there is no discrimination.
“I have lived and worked in many countries, but nowhere is as happy as Việt Nam. I live comfortably as at home," said Amaobi.
After retiring, Amaobi started coaching children and has been working at Lưu Ngọc Hùng Football Centre and his own centre for five years. In addition to football skills, he also teaches young players about professionalism.
“Besides, I also participate in sports TV shows as a guest and work with my brother in business. We know the demand of consumers in Nigeria, find the corresponding products in Việt Nam and send them home," Amaobi added.
Đặng Amaobi (left) seen in a training session for Lưu Ngọc Hùng Football Centre. — Photo courtesy of Lưu Ngọc Hùng Football Centre
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Amaobi liked sitting in street food stalls and ordering food like any other Saigonese person. He also loved to talk with the shop owners about Vietnamese and international football.
“The COVID-19 pandemic affected everyone, but the Vietnamese Government is trying to control it well. So I hope we all can work together and defeat the pandemic so everyone can go back to their normal life and job,” said Amaobi. — VNS