Origi: I took Norwegian passport to secure my future
Former Kenyan international goalkeeper Arnold Origi says he took up Norwegian citizenship so as to secure his future and that of his family.
Origi however admits that he fully understands why Kenyans struggled to understand the decisions.
The veteran goalkeeper was born in Nairobi to Kenyan international Austin Oduor 36 years ago.
He turned out for Kenyan Premier League sides Mathare United and Tusker before sealing a professional move to Norway.
But then, the Harambee Stars goalkeeper decided to trade his Kenyan passport for a Norwegian one in 2017, a decision that had Kenyans asking themselves why he’d suddenly declined to represent the national team after gaining 33 caps over a period of 12 years.
“I have been in Norway for seven years. One time I went to renew my work permit and the (immigration officials) told me I am eligible to get Norway citizenship,” Origi said in an interview with Madgoat TV.
“I took the Norwegian passport for my future. This travel document is crucial and can open a lot of doors for me.. If I don’t have a job right now the Norway government can sustain me. I now have an opportunity to work with the association of coaches in Norway, like Uefa B licence for coaches and UEFA A for goalkeepers,” he explained.
“Let us not play dumb, you know the struggles many Kenyan footballers face back at home. Most of them struggle to survive after retirement. Some Kenyans did not understand my decision but at the moment I was applying for that passport, I knew it would not stop me from turning out for the national team (because Kenya allows dual citizenship),” he further said.
Origi also hinted that his lack of game time at international level in the recent time was occasioned by a fallout with then Stars coach Stanley Okumbi.
“The fact that I have not played for the national team since has nothing to do with the fact that I have a Norwegian passport. It was because I had issues with the technical bench after the Guinea Bissau game. I respected the decision not to be selected because it is up to the coach to decide who is called up and who plays,” he said.
The outspoken keeper who is in line for a recall by current Stars coach Francis Kimanzi says also considered international retirement.
“I wondered whether my time with the national team had come to an end. I missed selection for three call-ups and yet I was performing well and even voted the best goalkeeper in Norway in 2015,” he said.
Origi is currently based in Finland, at top-flight club Veikkausliiga.