FOR­GET MI­LAN, WED­NES­DAY IS MY ROAD TO BRAZIL

Onyewu pins World Cup hopes on Owls

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Chris Bai­ley

SHUT out at AC Mi­lan, let go by Sport­ing Lis­bon and stuck on the bench at QPR – Oguchi Onyewu has not en­joyed much luck over the last five years.

Now set­tling in at Sh­effield Wed­nes­day af­ter join­ing from Rangers un­til the end of the sea­son, the Amer­i­can de­fender ad­mits it has been one mishap af­ter an­other since his dream move to the San Siro in 2009.

A knee in­jury wrecked Onyewu’s de­but sea­son but he did not play a sin­gle minute in Serie A in his two-year stay, de­spite sign­ing a one-year con­tract ex­ten­sion for free in grat­i­tude for his re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

But the path into the first-team re­mained barred by man­ager Mas­si­m­il­iano Al­le­gri – who Onyewu claims told him there was no way back how­ever much he im­pressed in prac­tice.

“The move to AC Mi­lan was great at the time. I’d won two league ti­tles with Stan­dard Liège and had reached the Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup fi­nal as well,” he said.

“Ev­ery­thing was go­ing well but then you are hit with a dra­matic knee in­jury so you’re left think­ing: ‘What are you sup­posed to do with that?’

“I wanted to re­pay Mi­lan in terms of their care for me by play­ing with­out a salary for a year and they were great, but from the man­age­ment side of things it was hard.

“Re­gard­less of what I did in train­ing, Al­le­gri said it was ir­rel­e­vant be­cause you are not go­ing into the team and you have to ac­cept it. I think he came out and said it to the me­dia too.”

Sour

There were even re­ports of a train­ing ground bust-up with Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic to fur­ther sour his time in Italy but then Sport­ing Lis­bon of­fered him a move and a way out – un­til mis­for­tune struck again.

He was a first-choice pick in Por­tu­gal but the club’s fi­nan­cial prob­lems forced their hand and, as a free agent last sum­mer, QPR was the next team for him to try his luck at. An­other club, an­other prob­lem – Clint Hill and Richard Dunne’s stingy part­ner­ship at Lof­tus Road.

One more chance to put it all be­hind him came from Stu­art Gray at Sh­effield Wed­nes­day at the turn of the year but, with a World Cup loom­ing, Onyewu was cau­tious about tak­ing it.

He first con­sulted com­pa­triot Stu­art Holden – who had a brief stint on loan with the Owls last sea­son – and QPR boss Harry Red­knapp be­fore mak­ing his mind up. But he says life at Hills­bor­ough has been good so far. “When I first signed for QPR they un­der­stood my am­bi­tions of reach­ing the World Cup this sum­mer. Harry was aware of that and I ex­pected to get that op­por­tu­nity to play. Un­for­tu­nately that didn’t hap­pen,” added the 31-year-old. “He didn’t want to mess with the

chem­istry of a set­tled team. Ev­ery­one’s am­bi­tion is to play at the high­est level and I have to wait and see what the fu­ture holds.

“If that’s at Wed­nes­day, I’ll have no prob­lem – it all de­pends on the sit­u­a­tion.

“It would be my sec­ond World Cup if I go and I know what I need to do – per­form – and that’s all I can take care of.

“I cap­tained the team in my last cap and it’s up to me prove a point, that I have a lot to of­fer.

“Sh­effield Wed­nes­day’s of­fer was pre­sented to me by Stu­art Gray, who wanted me to fin­ish the whole deal fairly quickly but I’m some­body who doesn’t do things on the spur of the mo­ment. I do my due dili­gence.

Climb

“So I spoke to Harry and QPR as­sis­tant man­ager Kevin Bond about the move, and I also had a con­ver­sa­tion with Stu­art Holden, who told me what to ex­pect from the fans and the coaches.

“It’s def­i­nitely good to have Stu­art (Gray) here on a per­ma­nent ba­sis, es­pe­cially when he worked so hard to bring me in.

“He has done ev­ery­thing in his power for the club so I’m pleased with him and pleased with the team.

“We’re in a great run of games and I’ve got a goal as well. I just want to help the team climb up the lad­der.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

NA­TIONAL PRIDE: Onyewu play­ing for the United States, and, in­set, in his time at Mi­lan

OUT AND IN: Al­le­gri and Red­knappp did not play Onyewu, but Gray gave him a new chance

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