Steps Up: Kenneth Omeruo

The latest subject of our feature focusing on players developing out on loan is Kenneth Omeruo, who has spent the 2015/16 season at Kasimpasa in Turkey’s top flight.
 

A physical presence in defence for the Istanbul-based club, Omeruo has helped Kasimpasa reach an impressive fifth spot in the Turkish Super Lig, with six matches left to play. They recently defeated top-of-the-table Besiktas. 

The 22-year-old, who played in all four of Nigeria’s games at the 2014 World Cup and featured prominently as his country won the Africa Cup of Nations the year before, tells the official Chelsea website about the many different benefits his loan spell has brought…

 

First of all Kenneth, how has the season gone so far?

It’s been going really well. I am playing a lot of games. I have had a few injuries but nothing serious, just keeping me out for one or two weeks at a time. Generally I have been playing every game except when I have been injured or suspended.

We have one of the best defensive records in the league at this moment so I can’t really ask for more than that. We are fifth right now and we are pushing to finish in a Europa League position which is fourth spot.

Tell us about Kasimpasa, who may not be familiar to people outside Turkey…

It’s a club in the European side of Istanbul. It doesn’t have as many fans as the bigger Istanbul clubs but they are financially stable and they have amazing facilities as well.

The atmosphere can be incredible especially when you are playing against the biggest clubs, teams like Fenerbahce, Besiktas and Galatasaray. It doesn’t matter if you are playing home or away, the stadium is sure to be full.

The fans are very loyal. It doesn’t even matter which team you play for – as long as you are a footballer they are nice to you and that makes it easy.

What is the style of football like in Turkey?

I have already played in Holland [for ADO Den Haag] and in the Championship [for Middlesbrough] and it’s a combination of both. It’s relaxed because there is a game a week, especially if you’re not in the cup, so you have a lot of time to train and prepare for the next game which isn’t always the case in England.

And the games are always tough. Teams that are struggling are always fighting hard. Every game is difficult but each one comes with improvement.

 Kenneth Omeruo celebrates Kasimpasa's win over Akhisar last week. (Photo courtesy of kasimpasa.com.tr)

And you’ve come up against some top attackers this season including a former Chelsea favourite…

Yes indeed, people like Mario Gomez, Robin van Persie, Nani and Samuel Eto’o. It’s been amazing. It was good coming up against Samuel. We beat his team Antalyaspor 2-1 a few weeks ago and I was happy he didn’t score!

I spoke to Samuel before the game and also their coach [former Chelsea assistant] Jose Morais. It was the first time I have had a chance to speak to Samuel since he left Chelsea which was nice.

And what has day-to-day life been like over there?

It’s been good living in Turkey. Istanbul is a lovely, lovely city. I live right in the centre of the city and there are lots of things to do and places to see, lots of nice restaurants too. It’s great. 

What is your target for the rest of the season?

I just want to finish the season as well as possible and try and help Kasimpasa into a European spot. After that we will start thinking about next season. There is also the Olympics which I might be involved in.