Oguchi Onyewu

Oguchi Onyewu

Onyewu in 2010
Personal information
Full name Oguchialu Chijioke Onyewu[1]
Date of birth (1982-05-13) May 13, 1982
Place of birth Washington, D.C., United States
Height 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)[2]
Playing position Centre back
Youth career
1999 IMG Soccer Academy
College career
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2000–2001 Clemson Tigers
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2002–2004 Metz 3 (0)
2003–2004La Louvière (loan) 24 (1)
2004–2009 Standard Liège 139 (11)
2007Newcastle (loan) 11 (0)
2009–2011 Milan 0 (0)
2011Twente (loan) 8 (0)
2011–2013 Sporting CP 17 (4)
2012–2013Málaga (loan) 2 (0)
2013–2014 Queens Park Rangers 0 (0)
2014 Sheffield Wednesday 18 (0)
2014–2015 Charlton Athletic 3 (0)
National team
1999 United States U17 5 (2)
2001 United States U20 4 (0)
2004–2014 United States 69 (6)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of May 3, 2014.

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of March 5, 2014

Oguchialu Chijioke "Oguchi" Onyewu (born May 13, 1982) is an American former soccer player who last played for Charlton Athletic during the 2014–15 season and currently training with Rangers. During his professional career from 2002 to 2015 he played for clubs in France, Belgium, England, Italy, the Netherlands, and Portugal. His most prolific club years were with Standard Liege of the Belgian League with whom he made over 100 league appearances from 2004 to 2009, before moving to A.C. Milan in Italy.

Onyewu earned over 60 caps with the United States men's national soccer team, and played for the U.S. at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups. He is the only male defender to win the U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year award since Alexi Lalas won the award in 1995.

Club career

Onyewu grew up in the Washington D.C. suburbs of Silver Spring and Olney, Maryland, where he attended St. Andrew Apostle School and Sherwood High School. Onyewu enrolled in the U.S. residency program in Bradenton, Florida,[3] before returning to Sherwood to graduate. He then played two years of college soccer at Clemson University in South Carolina. He moved to Europe in 2002, signing with Metz of Ligue 2 in France. In 2003, he was loaned out to La Louvière in Belgium.

Standard Liege and Newcastle

Onyewu was loaned to Standard Liège in 2004. The move to Liège was made permanent for the 2004–05 season. After the season, he was named to the Belgian league's Best XI as well as Foreign Player of the Year for 2005.

Having been the subject of many transfer rumors regarding clubs throughout Europe, Onyewu finally completed a loan deal with Newcastle United on January 30, 2007, covering the remainder of the 2006–07 season. He made his debut for Newcastle against Fulham on February 3, 2007,[4] and his home debut a week later, alongside Titus Bramble, in a 2–1 victory over Liverpool. The two formed an ill-fated partnership, making a number of costly mistakes which was ultimately to cost Onyewu his place. Following the arrival of new manager Sam Allardyce, Onyewu fell out of favor, and Newcastle decided not to make the loan deal permanent.[5]

Onyewu returned to Standard, and his play continued to improve. He made his 100th Belgian First Division appearance for Standard Liège on March 14, 2008, against Germinal Beerschot, and was an integral part of the club as they went on a 29-match unbeaten streak to win the 2007–08 Belgian First Division. After the season he was named to the Belgian league Best XI for the second time. His strong form continued during the 2008–09 season. He led the Standard defense to a second consecutive Belgian league title. Standard was drawn with Anderlecht at season's end, and Standard won a two-legged playoff for the championship.


Onyewu signed a three-year contract with Milan on July 7, 2009, but never played a league game in his year and a half stint at the club.[6][7] He made his Milan debut on July 22, coming on as a substitute for Alessandro Nesta in a loss to Club América in the World Football Challenge.[8] He made his competitive debut on September 30, again relieving Nesta in a Champions League loss to Zürich at San Siro.[9] Onyewu missed all the 2009–10 season – appearing in only one Champions League match – due a knee injury suffered while on national team duty. At the end of the season, on May 17, 2010, it was announced that Onyewu's contract with Milan was extended by one season, keeping him under contract with the club until the end of the 2012–13 season; upon Onyewu's request, the one-year extension included no salary.[10][11]

On November 5, 2010; Onyewu made international headlines when he and teammate Zlatan Ibrahimović engaged in a fight during training,[12] prior to a league match against Bari. It was reported that Onyewu suffered a reckless tackle from Ibrahimović, causing Onyewu to confront him. The two were then separated by team mates, though the club reported he and Ibrahimović have made up for their fight.[13]

Loan to Twente

On January 11, 2011, Onyewu joined Dutch side Twente on loan until the end of the season.[14][15] Onyewu made his debut for the Tukkers on the January 19 against Heracles Almelo in a Eredivisie fixture where he would play the full 90 minutes.[16] Despite his stay being short lived at the Dutch side, Onyewu would feature predominantly in both domestic competitions and European competitions where his side reached the quarter finals. His stint with Twente saw him accumulate 14 appearances, as well as pick up a cup winners medal after Twente defeated Ajax 3–2 in the KNVB Cup final.[17]

Sporting CP

On June 28, 2011, Onyewu joined Portuguese side Sporting CP on a free transfer where he signed a three-year deal from A.C. Milan.[18] In Sporting CP's first five competitive games of the season, three Primeira Liga and two European qualifying matches, Sporting manager Domingos Paciência opted to start central defenders Daniel Carriço and Alberto Rodríguez alongside Ânderson Polga, which left Onyewu on the bench. Injuries during the start of the season to Carriço and Polga led to manager Domingos Paciência starting Onyewu in Sporting's line-up. Onyewu made his team debut on the September 10 in a 3–2 away victory over Paços de Ferreira where he would play the full 90 minutes.[19][20] He scored his first goal for Sporting CP against Rio Ave at the Estádio dos Arcos on September 19, a week after making his Sporting CP debut, in a 3–2 win in which Onyewu scored the winning goal from a header after a Diego Capel corner kick found him unmarked in the penalty area.[21][22]

Unlike his time with AC Milan, Onyewu's playing time increased during the 2011–12 season. During the season, he gradually established himself as the first team regular starter, playing as a centre-back alongside Ânderson Polga. Despite the sacking of Domingos Paciência and the introduction of Ricardo Sá Pinto as Sporting manager in early 2012, Onyewu remained a first team regular until mid February where he sustained an injury in a league match against Paços de Ferreira.[23] Onyewu's injury which turned out to be an internal lateral ligament and an external meniscus fracture to his right knee kept the American out of action for two months.[24] Onyewu's recovery saw him back in late April where he played his first match in two months against Nacional.[25] Onyewu's recovery meant he would be available to compete in the 2012 Taça de Portugal Final where his side would come up on the losing end against Académica de Coimbra.[26] Onyewu finished his first season with the Leões with 31 appearances to his name, and scoring five goals.

On August 30, 2013, Sporting announced the termination of Onyewu's contract by mutual consent.[27]

Loan to Málaga

The appointment of Ricardo Sá Pinto as Sporting manager led to the arrival of Khalid Boulahrouz and Marcos Rojo, which led to Onyewu being loaned out to La Liga outfit Málaga on the last day of the summer transfer window.[28] Onyewu made his team debut on October 24 in a UEFA Champions League match as a substitute in a 1–0 victory over his former side AC Milan.[29] A week later, he started and scored his first Málaga goal against CP Cacereño on October 31 in a fourth-round Copa del Rey tie.[30] Onyewu's goal-scoring form continued in the same competition against SD Eibar on December 18, where his stoppage time goal earned his side a draw.[31]

Onyewu's stay with Málaga proved to be unsuccessful, however, as he struggled to establish himself as a first team regular in Málaga's side. He managed to play only nine matches all season in which he contributed two goals.

Return to English football

In October 2013, Onyewu signed for English side Queens Park Rangers on a free transfer,[32] but he failed to make any appearances and was an unused substitute on six occasions. On January 11, 2014, Onyewu joined Sheffield Wednesday until the end of the season.[33]

On October 31, 2014, Onyewu signed for Charlton Athletic on a short-term contract. On December 26, 2014, he made his first appearance for Charlton in a 1–1 draw game to Cardiff City, where he played the last 32 minutes as a substitute. The club announced that it contract had extended his contract through to June, the end of the 2015 season.[34] On 12 May 2015, Onyewu was released at the end of his contract.[35]

Onyewu was given a trial with Major League Soccer side New York City FC in May 2015, but was not signed.[36]

Racism controversy

Onyewu dealt with racism during his time in Belgium, even having been punched and shouted at by racist fans while playing for Standard Liège.[37] The most well-publicized incident occurred in the 2008–09 Championship playoff when Anderlecht defender Jelle Van Damme, according to Onyewu, allegedly repeatedly called him a "dirty ape,"[38] even after Onyewu relayed the information to the referees.[39] Van Damme denied the accusations following the match and in return said that Onyewu himself taunted him in a racist way by calling him "dirty Flemish."[38] Approximately two weeks later, on June 2, 2009, Onyewu's lawyer announced that he was suing Van Damme in an effort to end on-field racism in European football.[40] The case was withdrawn in February 2011 after a meeting between the two players when Van Damme apologised for any offence he may have given.[41]

International career

Onyewu was a mainstay on the United States national team for the 2006 and 2010 World Cup cycles.

Early in his career, Onyewu represented the U.S. at various youth levels, including at the 2001 World Youth Championship. He made his first appearance for the senior national team on October 13, 2004, against Panama. Onyewu scored his first international goal in the 2005 Gold Cup, nodding home the extra time winner in the semifinal against Honduras, and was later named to the tournament Best XI.

Oguchi played for the U.S. in the 2006 World Cup, and started in all three United States games. Just before halftime of the third and final group stage match against Ghana, Onyewu conceded a penalty from which Ghana scored, and the U.S. were eliminated with the resultant 2–1 defeat.[42][43] Onyewu was voted the 2006 U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year. He was the first defender to earn the award since Alexi Lalas in 1995.

During the 2009 Confederations Cup, Onyewu was paired with Jay DeMerit due to the injury of his normal partner, Carlos Bocanegra, who was unable to play in the group stage. Onyewu played well against Egypt, helping lead the U.S. to a 3–0 win that earned them a berth in the semifinals. He also had a standout performance in the 2–0 semifinal victory over Spain.

In a World Cup qualifier draw against Costa Rica on October 14, 2009, Onyewu suffered a patellar tendon rupture, forcing him to miss the rest of qualifying.[44]

During the 2010 World Cup, Onyewu started and played the full 90 minutes in the United States' first group match against England on June 12. During the second group match against Slovenia on June 18, he got his second start but was subbed out in the 80th minute. He did not play in the third group match against Algeria on June 23, nor did he play during their second round meeting against Ghana on June 26.

International goals

List of international goals scored by Oguchi Onyewu[45]

Goal Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition Ref.
1. July 21, 2005 Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, US  Honduras 2 – 1 2–1 2005 CONCACAF Gold Cup
2. June 2, 2007 Spartan Stadium, San Jose, US  China PR 4 – 1 4–1 Friendly
3. February 6, 2008 Reliant Stadium, Houston, US  Mexico 1 – 0 2–2 Friendly
4. March 26, 2008 Stadion Miejski, Kraków, Kraków, Poland  Poland 2 – 0 3–0 Friendly
5. October 11, 2008 RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C., US  Cuba 6 – 1 6–1 Q 2010 World Cup
6. October 9, 2010 Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois, US  Poland 2 – 1 2–2 Friendly

Career statistics


As of February 3, 2014 [46][47][48]

Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
France League Coupe de France Coupe de la Ligue Europe Total
2002–03MetzLigue 23000000030
Belgium League Belgian Cup League Cup Europe Total
2003–04La LouvièreBelgian Pro League241000000241
2004–05Standard Liège303000000303
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
2006–07Newcastle UnitedPremier League110000000110
Belgium League Belgian Cup League Cup Europe Total
2007–08Standard LiègeBelgian Pro League332000000332
Italy League Coppa Italia League Cup Europe Total
2009–10MilanSerie A0000000000
Netherlands League KNVB Cup League Cup Europe Total
Portugal League Taça de Portugal Taça da Liga Europe Total
2011–12Sporting CPPrimeira Liga174403150285
Spain League Copa del Rey Supercopa de España Europe Total
2012–13MálagaLa Liga2042003092
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
2013–14Queens Park RangersChampionship0000000000
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
2013–14Sheffield WednesdayChampionship160110000171
Total France 3000000030
Belgium 16312200010117513
England 270110000281
Italy 0000001010
Netherlands 80100050140
Portugal 174403150295
Spain 2042003092
Career total 220161133124125921


As of December 15, 2014[49]

United States
Year Apps Goals

Personal life

Onyewu's parents moved to the United States from Nigeria to study in Washington, D.C. They are ethnic Igbo people of Nigeria.[50] Onyewu has two brothers, Uche and Nonye, and two sisters, Chi-Chi and Ogechi. He also holds Belgian citizenship.[51] He speaks English, French, Italian and Portuguese.[52] Onyewu is a practising Catholic.[53]

At 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) and 210 lb (95 kg), Onyewu is the second-tallest outfield player in U.S. team history (after Omar Gonzalez).[54]



Standard Liège
Winner: 2007–08, 2008–09
Winner: 2008
Winner: 2011


Winner: 2005, 2007


All-American: NSCAA Second Team: 2001[55]
Best XI: 2004–05, 2007–08
Best Foreign Player: 2003-05


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