Nedum Onuoha Profile
|Born||Nov 12, 1986|
A versatile defender who could play anywhere in defence, Nedum Onuoha could be relied upon at every team he played for.
Nedum Onuoha is a Nigerian-born English former professional footballer, who rose to prominence at Manchester City and later enjoyed stints with Sunderland on loan, Queens Park Rangers and Real Salt Lake.
Onuoha played for England U21 and received a call-up from Nigeria in March 2007, but did not establish himself as a full international with either country.
Primarily a centre-back, Onuoha was a versatile and adaptable defender during a career which lasted until 2020.
Living his dream with Manchester City
Onuoha was reportedly a Manchester City supporter growing up, apparently attending the Division Two Play-Off final between City and Gillingham at Wembley in 1999. Onuoha rose up the ranks at Manchester City's youth academy and made his first team debut on October 27, 2004, in a League Cup clash with Arsenal. At the time, he was only 17 years old.
Onuoha's first few years with Manchester City saw him earn rave reviews. Kevin Keegan was full of praise for his young starlet, and he won Manchester City's Young Player of the Year prize for the 2004/05 season, also signing a new three-year contract with the club.
However, a hamstring injury kept Onuoha out at the beginning of the 2005/06 campaign. That would prove to be a sign of things to come as he repeatedly suffered injuries throughout the season. Onuoha was linked with a move to Liverpool, but suggested to Sky Sports that he did not have any intention of pushing for a move away from Manchester City.
"There were reports that Liverpool were watching me, but I can only say I know nothing more about it," he said.
"I would be flattered by interest from the European champions. But that's not to say I have any intention of leaving City.
"I'm very happy here, I learned my trade here and I feel very much part of Manchester City."
Injuries continued to trouble Onuoha during the following two seasons, but he made 19 appearances in all competitions in 2006/07 and 21 in 2007/08.
The 2008/09 season was one of major upheaval for Manchester City as Sheikh Mansour took over from Thaksin Shinawatra as owner and signalled Manchester City's intent by breaking the Premier League transfer record to sign Robinho from Real Madrid, beating Chelsea to the punch.
Nevertheless, Onuoha initially held his own at a club where he was clearly going to have to fight tooth and nail to prove himself. He made 30 appearances in all competitions under the guidance of Mark Hughes, scoring twice.
"The takeover was a shock in itself, it was insane. Out of nowhere, we were getting called the richest club in football. It was a shock not just to the players, but the whole football world, it was such a big statement at that time," he admitted.
Onuoha's impressive performances in 2008/09 saw him earn a new five-year contract. However, injuries continued to hamper his progress and he struggled for game time under Roberto Mancini, who replaced Hughes midway through the 2009/10 season.
Onuoha spent the 2010/11 season on loan at Sunderland. Shortly after returning to Manchester City, he found himself inadvertently caught in the centre of a controversy as City chief executive Garry Cook resigned from his position after appearing to accidentally send an email to Onuoha's mother and agent, Dr Anthonia Onuoha, mocking the cancer which eventually caused her death in November 2012.
Onuoha left Manchester City for Queens Park Rangers in January 2012, reuniting with former City manager Mark Hughes.
Queens Park Rangers' rock
Onuoha immediately became a regular at QPR, but there was trouble behind the scenes at the club as a squad of highly-paid players struggled to pull in the right direction together. QPR narrowly avoided relegation in 2011/12, but were relegated to the Championship in 2012/13.
Onuoha was part of the squad which won promotion back up to the Premier League at the first attempt. However, they were relegated back to the Championship in 2014/15.
A regular for QPR over the next three seasons in the Championship, Onuoha stayed loyal to the club despite reported interest from Sunderland, who were in the Premier League at the time. At the end of the 2017/18 season, he left for Real Salt Lake in the United States.
Big move to the USA
Onuoha made his Real Salt Lake debut in a 1-1 draw with Sporting Kansas City on September 30, 2018.
He featured regularly for his new club during the 2019 season. Notably, he was involved in an altercation with Los Angeles Galaxy's Zlatan Ibrahimovic, one of the most famous strikers in world football.
"Over here it is just a show for him. A lot of people are scared of him - but he is just a mere mortal," Onuoha said of Ibrahimovic, who he accused of threatening to hurt him and who celebrated a goal in Onuoha's face.
"First, he was very arrogant. Secondly, I thought: 'What is this guy playing at?'
"This is not the way you are supposed to do it, especially someone who is meant to be the face of the game here and the game globally.
"I wasn't a fan before - and I'm definitely not a fan now."
The confrontation spilled over into the dressing room when Ibrahimovic came over to shake hands in what the Swedish international claimed was a sporting gesture, but Onuoha viewed it as further provocation.
Onuoha's Real Salt Lake made the MLS Cup playoffs, but lost 2-0 to Seattle Sounders.
At the end of the 2020 season, Onuoha announced his retirement from football.
Nedum Onuoha's personal life
Onuoha studied part-time while playing to earn a degree in accountancy at Manchester Metropolitan University, although he has been quoted as saying that he did not enjoy his studies.
His wife, Lucy Onuoha, gave birth to their daughter, Amaia, in April 2014.
Onuoha has revealed that he had a strict upbringing and was raised in a manner that he felt honoured his Nigerian roots. His mother ensured that he focused on education instead of only looking at football.
"My mum always wanted me to do the best I could and out of respect for her I will carry on trying to do that. The rest of my career is dedicated to her memory. I want to carry on making her proud. She was a very special woman, and even when she was ill she never wanted me to stop playing," said Onuoha of his mother after she had passed away in November 2012.
Nedum Onuoha's net worth
According to the MLS Players' Union's data, Onuoha was the seventh-highest paid player in Real Salt Lake's squad during the 2019 season. He earned a base salary of $450,000.