Francis Odinaka Uzoho (born 28 October 1998) is a Nigerian professional footballer who plays as a goalkeeper for Omonia and the Nigeria national team.
Early Life and Career
Born in Nwangele, Imo State, Nigeria. Uzoho joined the Senegal branch of Aspire Academy in 2013, aged 14; initially a forward, he was converted into a goalkeeper after being deemed “too slow” at the age of 12. In 2016, after impressing on a tournament in Barcelona, he joined Deportivo de La Coruña’s Juvenil squad.
Age rules meant that Uzoho could only become available to sign a contract with Dépor in January 2017; shortly after signing his contract, he started to train with the first team. Promoted to the reserve team ahead of the 2017–18 season, he made his senior debut on 10 September by starting in a 3–0 Segunda División B home win against Real Madrid Castilla.
Uzoho made his first team – and La Liga – debut on 15 October 2017, starting in a 0–0 away draw against SD Eibar. At the age of 18 years and 352 days, he became the youngest ever foreign goalkeeper to debut in La Liga, and the second-youngest player to appear in the league during the campaign at that point, only behind Real Madrid’s Achraf Hakimi.
On 24 August 2018, Uzoho renewed his contract for three seasons and was immediately loaned to Segunda División side Elche CF for one year. In February 2019 he moved on loan to Cypriot club Anorthosis Famagusta, in the search for more first-team football in the run up to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
After making his debut for the club, concerns were raised about his health certificate. As a result, Anorthosis Famagusta were deducted 9 points, which they appealed. The club’s deduction appeal was rejected, although Uzoho’s appeal against his personal penalty of a one-match ban and €1,000 fine was successful.
In July 2019 he returned on loan to Cyprus, this time with Omonia. He said he hoped his return to the country would be positive. In July 2020, Uzoho Joined APOEL on a three year contract. his first league game for APOEL was on a 3-0 victory against Ermis Aradippou but he got injured and missed 3 crucial games and APOEL lost all three of them.
On 1 September 2021, Uzoho moved permanently to Omonia on a four year deal.
Uzoho represented Nigeria under-17s at the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup. Aged only 14, he was an immediate backup to Dele Alampasu.
In October 2017 Uzoho received his first call-up to the Nigerian senior squad. He made his full international debut on 14 November, replacing Daniel Akpeyi in a 4–2 friendly win against Argentina.
He was named in Nigeria’s 23-man squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. By that time he was considered Nigeria’s first-choice goalkeeper.
He withdrew from the national squad in November 2018 due to injury. He was a squad member at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. Francis Uzoho was in goal for Nigeria in the 3rd place match against Tunisia.
In October 2019 he suffered a ligament injury in a friendly match against Brazil, and underwent surgery in November 2019.
On 25 December 2021, He was shortlisted in 2021 AFCON Nations Cup by Caretaker Coach Eguavoen as part of the 28-Man Nigeria Squad.
Wife, Son and Family Life
Uzoho marriage has always been on that have continued to draw attention due to the event surrounding it.
In December 2018, at just 18 years old, the young international married his longtime girlfriend, Sommie, in a traditional marriage ceremony in Imo state Owerri.
Although many Nigerians on social media felt he was too young to get married, Francis spoke with Sports zone, a program on Lagos talks that he prayed about his decision and consulted some of his older family members.
They all gave him advice and their consent.
He also stated that he and his wife had a religious background that wouldn’t allow them to keep dating without doing what was right.
Francis also talked about his looks not matching his age.
He said intensive training changed his look as he couldn’t remain too slim and play in the same post with players like Gonzalo and Messi, which made him work and develop his physique.
He further went ahead to say that he doesn’t blame people who say he looks older than his age, that learning how to deal with it is part of the game, and being a goalkeeper, he needed to develop himself.
Francis and his wife Sommie welcomed their son in January 2020, and Francis took to his Instagram page to share photos he took with his wife and son in the delivery room.
He welcomed his son to the world and thanked God for the safe delivery of his son, and he also talked about the strength his wife showed during the pregnancy and delivery.
In June 2020, the footballer took to his Facebook page to post a picture of a young 17-year-old boy, and he wrote: wow, my second son Michael is 17 today. I seek God’s blessings for him. Daddy loves you, boy.
The celebration immediately drew the attention of his fans and the Nigerian audience, as at the time, Francis was 19 years old, and everyone wondered how a 19-year-old could be the dad of 17 years old.
Francis immediately deleted the posts when his fans poured in several comments, and some wished the boy a Happy Birthday while others showed their disbelief and accused him of lying about his age.
This caused Nigerians to wonder if the goalkeeper lied about his age.
However, the goalkeeper did not say anything to debunk the rumors, which seemed to establish the popular belief that he lied about his age.
House and Cars
Francis keeps a low profile and tries to keep his house or properties out of sight.
Though he has posted pictures he took inside a house, we do not know where or how many he has in his possession.
However, Francis does not follow the same strict rules on how his cars as he does his house.
The goalkeeper is undoubtedly a car lover and really doesn’t hold back when it comes to striking poses with them on social media.
Francis has at least four cars: a Range Rover Evogue, a Mercedes-Benz E350, a Porsche Cayenne, and a BMW X5.
In 2021, Francis acquired the BMW X5 and immediately posted it on his social media handle with a caption that states: Grace found me and made the difference. In Christ alone.
Net Worth and Salary
Francis Uzoho’s net worth as of 2022 is estimated at around $2.5 million – $15 million.
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