Super Eagles and Crotone striker Simy Nwankwo is one of Nigeria’s topmost players plying their football trade in Italy, and in In this interview with Calciomercato.com talk, hé relives his career with Crotone so far while singling out his overhead kick goal in the 1-1 draw against Juventus in a Serie A game way back in April 18, 2018 as the defining moment of his career.
The gangling forward then scored 20 goals last season to emerge the first African top scorer in the Serie B as well as helping Crotone regain promotion to the Serie A for the coming season. Simy reveals more in this interview…
You scored 20 goals for Crotone in the Serie B to become the first African to win the top scorer in an Italian professional series. How does that makes you feel?
Simy: I am proud to have reached such an important milestone, above all because great African champions such as, for example, Eto’o and Weah have passed through Italy.
What was the best goal and which was the most important?
For a striker like me, goals are all important, both for the team and for gaining self-confidence. With the help of our team-mates this year we managed to do great things.
How did you celebrate your promotion to Serie A?
It was a strange party. On the one hand, I was very happy because we reached the seasonal goal that I really wanted after last year’s relegation, that of going back was my obsession. The promotion however, came at a difficult time for the whole world where we couldn’t even have our fans close to celebrate together.
Simy Nwankwo celebrates with Crotone as Serie B Champions and Promotion to the Serie A
Did you have the fear that they could permanently interrupt the championship and the promotion could fade?
Simy: The season stopped at our best moment, when we were literally flying. But the stop did not depend on us, just as we couldn’t decide whether to return to the pitch or not. I concentrated on what the team could do. a team in which I have always had confidence, to keep fit even at home and then be ready in case the championship resumes. And when we restarted, we started
from where we left off, hitting the final goal.
Unfortunately it was also the season of the death of the athletic trainer Sergio Mascheroni!
When I talk about Sergio I can never find the words. Even today I can’t understand what happened, I find it hard to understand and accept this situation. It was the most difficult year of my career: the day before he was there. with us, in training, and the next day he was gone. For us, he was one of the family, a brother. It is a pain that I still carry inside, and I think it will remain for life.
Is it true that they call you Simyaldo?
Simy: It’s a nickname that the fans gave me, they like to call me that. But I can’t compare myself to a champion like Cristiano Ronaldo,
What memories do you have of that overhead kick against Juve in 2018?
Beautiful. It was an important moment, it changed my life. That day I gained more awareness and confidence in myself, I realized that I could score anyone. It was a turning point for my career, It helped me to grow.
In your opinion, how has Serie A changed compared to that of two years ago?
It has always been a difficult championship, but in recent years the level has risen thanks to the arrival of champions like Cristiano Ronaldo, Eriksen and Lukaku. There are many very strong players. We know it will be tough for us, but we will always give our best. and we will see where we can get.
Have you already studied cheering for the first goal?
Simy: No, I’ve never done that. Usually I decide on the spot. The most beautiful celebration is the hug with my teammates, every goal is the result of a collective effort. Lately, however, I’m not exulting: I don’t feel like it. in a stadium without fans, in a period in which the whole world is experiencing a delicate situation. If I sign I am happy, but a part of me is not happy with what is happening.
Is there a shirt you have already bet on?
I have some, but I’m not a fanatic. This year I’d like to have Cristiano Ronaldo’s, but I think it’s normal. Let’s see if I can get it. Being close to him is a dream.