Club Brugge defender Denis Odoi says he is surprised to earn a first Black Stars call-up for the games against Nigeria in the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifying playoffs.
The 33-year-old versatile fullback – who only joined the Belgian giants in the January transfer window – was born in Leuven to a Belgian mother and a Ghanaian father.
Odoi made one senior appearance for Belgium’s Red Devils in 2012 in a friendly match against Montenegro after featuring for the country of his mother at U-20 and U-21 levels.
That still made the ex-Fulham star fit to switch allegiance to Ghana – a process which was only recently approved by Fifa.
And with the Black Stars in need of quality players to prosecute their doubleheader World Cup playoffs against sworn rivals Nigeria on March 25 and 29, the GFA have shocked Odoi with an invitation for the crucial games.
“We have worked hard for it every year,” the player who can play across all defensive positions is quoted to have said about completing his switch of allegiance.
“The contact came when I was playing at Fulham. But the paperwork wasn’t final, so I gave up on that ambition. But you see: soon, I will be an international for the first time.”
Recently, Odoi received a call from coach Otto Addo telling him that the formalities were finally settled.
“I was a little surprised,” he admitted all the same. These are the two important battles we will play. I might even go to the World Cup.”
Then came the question of choice, and a dubious answer.
“Do I feel like I’m a real Ghanaian? Let’s not be fooled: I’m more Belgian, of course ensuring one will however wear the jersey of Black Stars.
“But my dad is from Ghana, so that’s still part of me. That’s why I’m proud to play for the national team.”
He then continued: “I heard that everything is very well organized. Often the national teams on the African continent are a bit chaotic, but apparently, Ghana is not. I really look forward to it: it will be a fun experience.”
Ghana are yet to make public their squad list for the games against Nigeria but players invited have started reporting to camp after their respective club duties over the weekend.