Top Prospect: ’97 Abuchi Obinwa

Few names have been as talked about in US youth soccer circles over the last year as ’97 midfielder Abuchi Obinwa. Obinwa has been a staple in US U15-17 set ups playing for the United States in Scotland, England, Holland, Mexico City, and Azerbaijan.

'97 usynt Abuchi Obinwa
’97 usynt Abuchi Obinwa

It has been Obinwa’s consistent success at the club level that has secured his role with US youth teams. Obinwa starred for Florida Rush // FC America before moving to USSDA powerhouse Chicago Magic PSG. Obinwa was recently named Central Conference U15/16 Player of the Year, following his 5 goal campaign.

Obinwa with Chicago Magic PSG U15/16
Obinwa with Chicago Magic PSG U15/16

That’s the beauty of Obinwa’s game. He runs the game without putting up major stats. Obinwa’s masterful midfield presence allowed usynt ’96 Andrija Novakovich and usynt ’98 Elijah Rice to breakout for Chicago Magic PSG in 2012-2013. Similar to his play with Chicago his ability to control the midfield let players like usynt ’97 Brooks Lennon, usynt ’97 Amirgy Pineda and usynt ’97 Sebastian Saucedo to thrive in the Caspian Cup.

’97s Abuchi Obinwa & Brooks Lennon star at Caspian Cup

His play over the last year has opened many doors, and eyes, to his game including that of Chicago Magic parent club French giants PSG. Obinwa was selected to travel to the French capital and train with the clubs U17 squad. By all accounts he thoroughly impressed PSG coaches in the center of midfield.

OWTY caught up with the Abuchi to discuss past, present and future soccer endeavors:

OWTY:: When and where did you start playing soccer?

Abuchi Obinwa :: I started playing soccer when I was 3yrs old in Columbus, Ohio

Abuchi Obinwa with 2011 id2
Abuchi Obinwa with 2011 id2

OWTY :: When did you know you realize you could be really successful playing soccer? What was your ‘big break’?

AO :: I found out I could be pretty successful when I made the Nike id2 national select team that traveled to England and Scotland in 2011.  That was definitely also my “big break”

OWTY :: You have strong ties to the Florida Rush // FC Vipers program but yet play for the Chicago Magic PSG USSDA academy. What connection led you to the mid-west?

AO :: I moved to the Midwest because of my coach and close family friend, Charles Redding, who arranged for me to play in the Dallas cup 2 years in a row with Chicago Magic before moving there in September of 2012. He is definitely the reason why they even considered me to play for their academy; then I had to play well which gave me a spot on their team.

Abuchi Obinwa + Yaya Toure
Obinwa :: 2 way threat

OWTY :: Who are some of the players you try and emulate?

AO :: Players I try to emulate are definitely John Obi Mikel and Yaya Toure; they are both my favorite players as well. I love the way Yaya Toure can also attack and defend and he is good with his feet despite his height. John Obi Mikel plays differently; he plays very simple while advancing the ball up the field and when I watch him play it seems as if he never loses the ball.

OWTY :: You are one of the more decorated US youth nationals. What do you attribute your success too?

AO :: I think my success is because I am always determined to get better no matter what the task is. At a point when I was playing with the national team, a coach had told me my feet weren’t quite good enough to play in the midfield so they tried me at center back for two days of the camp.  I was determined to be the best as I could at defensive midfield after that camp.  I haven’t stopped practicing on my touches to get even better and keep being in the national program. I also have a lot of strong supporters who believe in me. I won’t let them down.

'97 usynt Abuchi Obinwa at Marveld Tournament vs. Real Madrid
’97 usynt Abuchi Obinwa at Marveld Tournament vs. Real Madrid

OWTY :: You’ve represented the US in Mexico City, Holland, Azerbaijan as well as a number of youth camps. What is it like to represent your country?

AO :: Representing my country is by far the biggest honor I can have as a player.  The first time I put on the jersey, it felt amazin!  As soon as you put it on you have a standard that you have to play at in every game regardless of the opponent.

OWTY :: How does the US National team environment’s compare to some of the other one’s you’ve experienced?

AO :: The national team environment is the most professional environment I have ever had, even more professional then when I had trained with PSG in France. Everything at the camp is taken care of off the field so they make sure you only have to worry about playing. Training is difficult but fun at the same time, everything is quicker but once your team has possession of the ball every player makes sure they don’t lose it.

Obinwa at PSG
Obinwa at PSG

OWTY :: You spent over a week training with PSG academy sides, what was it like training with such a famous club? What positions did they have you playing? Any chance you will head back?

AO :: Training with that club was overwhelming at the beginning in the aspect that I couldn’t believe I was there, but I loved every bit of it. I jelled with the team very well and everyone made me feel welcome, even if they couldn’t speak English that well. I played well there and they actually invited and started me in the match against The France u17 national team. I played defensive midfield that whole game which I played about 65 of the 80 minutes. There is a chance I could be going back, but I know the next time I go back I need to wow the coaches even more if I want to stay there.

OWTY :: You’ll also be traveling to Madrid to train with the Real Madrid academy, how did that come about?

AO :: Training with Madrid was actually a surprise. The Adidas ITP program actually emailed me one day sending me the offer and once we found out that they will be picking a player to stay extra after the 1 week training is over, my parents and I immediately jumped on the opportunity.

OWTY :: Where do you see yourself in a year? 5 years?

AO :: In 1 year, hopefully playing professionally in Europe.  In 5yrs, recognized as one of the best midfielders in the world!

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