Starring Ireland displays proved to Luton attacker he was ready for the Premier League

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Attacker proud of the way his career has gone to date

​Becoming a regular for the Republic of Ireland national team told Luton attacker Chiedozie Ogbene that he was ready for a crack at the Premier League this season.

Making his debut in a 0-0 draw in Hungary back in June 2021 while at Rotherham, the winger went on to find the net in his second appearance, scoring in the 3-0 World Cup qualifying success against Azerbaijan, quickly handed a first start by Stephen Kenny when Ireland held Portugal to a stalemate later that year.

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Ogbene swiftly went on to become a first team regular under Kenny, winning 19 caps, on target four times in total, memorably starring against France prior to joining the Hatters this summer.

Town attacker Chiedozie Ogbene - pic: ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty ImagesTown attacker Chiedozie Ogbene - pic: ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images
Town attacker Chiedozie Ogbene - pic: ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images

It was those kinds of displays that meant he was more than comfortable in swapping the Championship for the top flight when Town came calling, as he said: “I think I said two years ago, my agent asked me if I was ready for the Premier League and I said no.

“Then after two years of internationals, he asked me the same question and I said yes, I am ready for the Premier League. Playing international football is the highest level of football and I was playing that for two years, so when I came to the Premier League, yes I was proud of myself for being there, but I also said I’ve earned the respect to be here.

"I was playing international football against countries like France and Belgium and Portugal and I felt quite comfortable, so I had to come into this league with a bit of confidence.

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"Not arrogance, but confidence that I’m not just here to get a chance, I’m here because I’ve worked my way up and I’m getting the reward I deserve. So when I’m playing at this level I try to just embrace it and play with confidence.”

Although Ogbene enjoyed a good Euro 2024 qualifying campaign on a personal note, it was a disappointing one for the Irish as they failed to reach the finals in Germany, finishing second bottom of their group with just six points from eight matches.

It signalled a departure for Kenny, his stint in charge lasting over three years coming to an end last month, his contract not renewed by the Football Association of Ireland.

On the manager’s exit, the forward continued: “Steve Kenny and his team have built a strong foundation for the future of Irish football. What they’ve done in the past three years is phenomenal, they’ve changed the philosophy, the mentality of the system, they’ve brought me in and brought a lot of young players in, a lot of young players who have a bright future for Ireland and that’s credit to him and his vision.

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“I spoke to him and he’s a proud Irishman, he’s happy with the legacy he’s left. They didn’t achieve what we wanted to achieve but the mark they’ve left on Irish football is phenomenal.”

Ogbene's journey to the top flight has been an interesting one too, as after moving to Ireland from Nigeria at the age of three, he signed for Brentford in 2018, but struggled during his time with the Bees, heading on loan to Exeter and eventually leaving for Rotherham.

An impressive few years at the New York Stadium led to Luton making their move, as he is taken huge positives in the manner he has adapted terrifically to life in the top flight, adding: “I’m very proud of my younger self as I had a bit of adversity trying to get where I am today and I never gave up, I kept going.

"I had a tough time at Brentford, went to Exeter and I remember leaving Brentford to go to Rotherham. A lot of people said it was a big mistake, why would you leave a Championship club to go to League One?

"Those were risks I took, so I’m so happy that I took those risks. When I’m here I just enjoy it because I’ve taken another risk to get here so I might as well embrace it, enjoy every moment."