On Thursday 18th April 2013, Nigerian sport media carried news insinuating that Onazi’s coach at SS Lazio, Vladmir Petkovic, was unhappy with his performances and his place in the team was therefore in jeopardy. “It’s unfair that Nigerian newspapers are writing such lies,” the African Cup Of Nations 2013 winner retorted. “It was my media officer in Lazio who drew my attention to the story along with other Nigerians who called me and faxed me the newspapers. The media officer even advised that I should sue the media houses writing such, trying to tarnish my career.”
In the article, Petkovic was quoted as saying, “You cannot play with only eight, nine or 10 first choice players. To compete on several fronts, you need a very big squad. My job is also to understand who isn’t in the best shape.” However, Onazi, who has enjoyed a surge of first team appearances since his victory with Nigeria at the AFCON 2013, has been widely praised in Italy for his recent performances. In Lazio’s last match against league leaders Juventus, the Nigerian starlet was rated Lazio’s best performer. “By God’s grace, once again, I was rated the best,” he said.
“The coach did not say anything like that about me. He was rather emphasizing that the squad needed to improve and build as a whole. I don’t know why Nigerian newspapers can invent such headlines,” the youngster, who has enjoyed an injury free season, added.
– Ihechukwu Njoku