Eighteen-year-old goalkeeper Ovie Ejeheri has committed his future to Arsenal after establishing himself in the club’s youth ranks. Ejeheri has signed his first professional contract with English Premier League outfit, the Gunners and in the process raised the prospect of England, Uganda and Nigeria fighting over his nationality.
The goalkeeper joined the North London side when he was eight years old and his steady progress saw him promoted to the U18 team in 2019. During the 2020-21 campaign, Ejeheri was drafted into the U23 squad where he was able to garner just three appearances.
Still in the nascent stages of his career, the 18-year-old is expected to continue his development under coach Kevin Betsy at Meadow Park.
“Ovie Ejeheri has signed his first professional contract,” a statement from the English topflight giants read. The 18-year-old goalkeeper joined our academy aged eight. A towering keeper, Ovie developed through the Arsenal Academy age groups and made it into the matchday squad three times for our U23s side last season. Everyone at Arsenal would like to congratulate Ovie on his first professional contract and we look forward to seeing his continued development.”
In 2020, he was invited to England’s training camp for goalkeepers. That invitation presented him with a chance to earn a call-up to England’s squad for the 2021 Fifa U20 World Cup billed for Indonesia. Unfortunately, the tournament was cancelled due to the outbreak of Covid-19 which affected football-related activities globally.
Meanwhile, Ejeheri attributed his steady rise to the efforts devoted by his parents even in difficult times.
“It’s a very, very special day for me,” he said. “My mum and my dad, they’ve helped me from my whole career, taking me to training, even when it was very, very hard for them. So, it’s a good moment for me and them. I’m really excited to keep this journey going.”
Born in Greenwich, London to a Nigerian father and a mother from Uganda, the goalkeeper could spark a selection war between Uganda, Nigeria and England in future.
Ejeheri, whose football role model is Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon, had earlier talked about his desire to represent the Super Eagles and the heights he would love to reach.
“My goal in the next three years is to play regular first-team football at club level and represent England or Nigeria at the international level,” he said. “I look forward to the challenges of professional and international football at the highest level.”
- A Goal report