The talented forward turns 33 in less than a month and it appears that, after many years of ups and downs, the Super Eagles can finally count on him.
In recent years he has fallen out with three of the country’s previous coaches – Shaibu Amodu in 2010, Lars Lagerback later that year and then current boss Stephen Keshi after he was left out of the Afcon squad in 2013.
He spent a year out of the team due to the most recent dispute and was criticised for his form in
the World Cup warm-up games after making his long-awaited return to the squad.
But now Odemwingie is recognised as the leading figure in his country’s attack and faces a career-defining match as Nigeria face France on Monday to do battle for a place in the last eight at the World Cup.
While France have Karim Benzema, Olivier Giroud and Mathieu Valbuena providing firepower, the Africans will be relying on Odemwingie, with support from Emmanuel Emineke and Ahmed Musa.
With 11 international goals to his name, Odemwingie is the highest goalscorer in the Super Eagles’ World Cup squad. He is the most proven talent in a group of players who have the opportunity to make history for their country by reaching the quarter-finals for the first time.
He has had an impressive World Cup to date. In the match against Argentina it was Musa who shined brightest, but the Stoke City striker was still involved in some free-flowing attacking moves for the Super Eagles.
Odemwingie also came to the fore in Nigeria’s other two group games. The striker came off the bench against Iran and was easily the biggest threat for Keshi’s side, shooting narrowly wide of the post with a volley after coming off the substitutes’ bench. He has not been out of the team since.
Against Bosnia-Herzegovina, it was his first-half goal that proved decisive in the 1-0 victory. It was a clever finish from close-range that boosted the hopes of a nation.
The player himself appears to be in confident mood. After Nigeria made it through the group stages, Odemwingie said he believes they can stun the world and make it all the way to the final.
He said: “I saw a Brazilian on the street who told me he foresaw Nigeria playing the final against Brazil and I said to myself ‘why not’.
“Going by the level of our players and the fact that they are yet to peak. Mark my words – we have a very resilient defence, a creative midfield and an attack force that can trouble any defence in the world. If we played to our potentials, we can go all the way.”
He is an experienced and talented attacker who now seems to be a positive influence on the rest of the squad.
Finally, Nigeria can count on Odemwingie.
(via Sony Football)