The story of little known Nigerian forward Raphael Chidi Odogwu is one of a fight back from what looked like a career threatening injury to becoming a late bloomer.
His career got underway with the U19 of modest Italian side Chievo but he failed to make the senior grade at the club and since then he has been involved in six free transfers which includes two spells at Virtus Verona. He also played for Real Vicenza, Renate, Alto Vicentino and Arzignano.
While at Arzignano, he suffered a career threatening injury that kept him out for three years and in the midst of fears over his career, he sunk into depression and had to undergo therapy to beat it.
In 2021 when Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku was at Inter Milan, Odogwu:s wife was tried to contact Lukaku on Instagram to cheer him up. Unfortunately she had no luck but she eventually got through to him using the assistant of Antonio Conte’s who was then the coach of Inter Milan.
She got her way through Conte’s assistant coach Cristian Stellini via Odogwu’s agent leading to Lukaku sending his jersey and a pair of boots to sent Raphael to boost his morale and also confidence. The move appears to have paid off.
The 32 year old is playing his first season in Serie B and he’s Südtirol’s top scorer with 8 goals and he has been playing in the boots given to him by Lukaku since 2021. His team are within the promotion position. A rise to the Serie A will no doubt complete an amazing turnaround for the Nigerian who holds an Italian passport as well.