Exclusive: Latest Udinese star Destiny Udogie reveals what he finds most difficult about the Serie A, who he looks to learn from and more
Udogie impressing for Udinese
Still just 18 years-old, left-back Destiny Udogie has already found his way into the Udinese first team, and his profile in and out of Italy is rapidly growing.
Udinese (on loan from Verona)
Udogie is by far the best defender out of the 3. He actually defends like a veteran but he is only 18; his defensive reads and technique are great. Udogie is also about as athletic as Bastoni (or even more) at ONLY 18 pic.twitter.com/YFEiXlKNWa
— Italy Propaganda 🇮🇹⚽️ (@ItalyProp) September 29, 2021
The youngster made his name at home-town club Hellas Verona, and has already been subjected to strong interest from Premier League side Everton and Ligue 1 outfit Monaco in his fledgling career.
It was Udinese that Udogie opted for, however, making the move initially on loan with a 4 million euro clause added into the deal, which has since been activated.
With 4 appearances for Italy’s U21 side under his belt already, Udogie is certainly a left-back to keep an eye on in the future.
Fresh off the back of a hard-fought point against Atalanta, he sat down with 101 to discuss his career to date, his idols and who his hardest opponent has been so far.
Q: How did you get to where you are now?
“It was through a long process, I started in the Verona youth team, game after game, practice, practice, and I had the privilege to come here, to Udinese, a big club with everything, and I think it’s the best team for me to grow at”.
Q: Obviously, Udinese have activated their purchase clause in the initial loan from Hellas Verona. What do you think impressed the coaches so much as to activate it early and does it give you more confidence, or provide added pressure?
“It gave me more confidence because they believed in me, and it’s a big opportunity to show my quality and show what I can do on the pitch.”
Q: Obviously, you’ve taken to the Serie A like a duck to water, playing regularly for Udinese this season. Who would you say so far is the most challenging player you have faced?
“I think I’d have to say Juan Cuadrado, of Juventus. He’s a great player, a short guy but he’s fast so he’s dangerous”
Q: Is he someone who you look up to, having moved back from the wing to play at right-back for Juventus?
“Yeah, him and also [Federico] Chiesa, he’s very good”.
Q: On a more serious topic, Mike Maignan has recently spoken out about racism in Serie A, have you ever experienced it personally and how do you think it can be tackled better?
“I’ve never personally experienced it no. I feel quite fortunate because obviously it’s not something good to experience. I think it’s something we should try and stop in football, but also in other sports.
Q: Do you think there are ways we can tackle it better, not just in Italy but across the world. Obviously there is the taking a knee in the Premier League, but what else could be done?
I think all the teams should show something to say “we are fighting against it”, but also from the very top, the major organisations of football. They need to find a way to tackle it properly.”
Q: You’ve played at left-back for Udinese and in central midfield for the Italy youth team. Where do you see your best position?
My position is left-back. I grew up playing at left-back and I feel so comfortable there, I know my qualities and I feel like I try to express myself there.
For the National team, I was playing in midfield, but it was very different.
Q: How do you have to alter your game to play the different positions?
I just try to do my best, for Udinese at left-back I try to give it all. For the National team, it’s a privilege to be there, so anywhere they tell me to, I’ll play.
Q: Returning to Serie A, what do you find the most challenging thing about the competition?
It’s a high-intensity league. You need to work hard, and there are no small teams. All the teams are good and all the teams are tough, so you need to be prepared to show your best always.
Q: Manuel Locatelli was the latest example of a Serie A prospect opting to stay in Italy rather than move to a different league, despite reported Premier League interest. Is your ultimate goal to be playing at the top level in Italy or will you be looking to test yourself elsewhere?
I just got to Udinese! I think it’s a big team in Serie A, and for now I’m just thinking about playing for them. I hope that in helping the team I show my quality, and that I can go to a big big team, but we’ll see.
Q: Would you say that big club would be in Italy, or would you rather test yourself in England?
I would like to head out [of Italy], maybe England. But for now, I’m here to help Udinese and I will try to do my best for the team
Q: Obviously, we’ve already spoken about Cuadrado and Chiesa, but if you had to name an idol that you had in your position, that you base your game on, who would you say that player was?
I watch a lot of AC Milan’s Theo Hernandez. He’s my position, and I think he’s the best in our position in the Serie A.
Q. He’s right up there as one of the best in the world, isn’t he?
Yeah, I think he’s the best right now.