Ghana on Tuesday finally announced their squad for the 2022 FIFA World Cup play-off tie against Nigeria. The list contained many unfamiliar faces including Denis Odoi.
The right-footed full-back is among the three debutants in the 27-man squad alongside midfielder Elisha Owusu and Hearts of Oak left-back Dennis Korsah.
But Odoi’s call-up has been the most talked about because of his age.
He is 33 years.
He is an experienced lad with over 400 competitive appearances under his belt since his professional debut in 2006.
The technical team believes his experience will be helpful in the Black Stars’ bid to overcome Nigeria and secure qualification to the World Cup finals in Qatar.
But aside from his experience, what else is there to know about Odoi? Below are 10 facts.
1. Odoi began playing when he was five years old. He joined K. Stade Leuven and played there for five years before moving to Anderlecht, but he later found himself at Genk before he joined Oud-Heverlee Leuven at 18 years.
2. Odoi currently plays for Club Brugge. He joined the Belgian champions for an undisclosed fee in February 2022 after representing Sint-Truiden, Anderlecht (again), Lokeren and Fulham, making 31 appearances in the Premier League. He also helped the London club achieve promotion from Championship twice.
3. Odoi was born in Leuven to a Ghanaian father and a Belgian mother. Hence, he was eligible to play for both countries.
4. He opted for Belgium before he turned 20, playing for their U-20 team for two years before moving to the U-21 side.
5. Odoi was handed the first Belgium senior call-up in 2011 but had to wait until 2012 to finally make his debut. He featured on 25 May in a 2–2 draw against Montenegro in a friendly match.
6. Two years after his first match for Belgium, Odoi decided to play for Ghana, saying: “Even if that was a practice match, I can still come out for Ghana. Playing for that country seems like the ideal way to discover my roots.” But he never received a call from the Ghana Football Association.
7. After waiting for Ghana for four years, Odoi changed his mind by stating that he would want to represent Belgium again. But he wasn’t given another chance. This means his Black Stars call-up is the first national team invitation in almost a decade.
8. Odoi is a close friend of Napoli and Belgian striker Dries Mertens. They have known each other since the age of five as they both started playing at Leuven.
9. Outside of football, Odoi studied to be a PE teacher and did this at university while working towards becoming a professional football player. In an interview with the Guardian, Odoi said he received good grades.
10. Odoi has three kids including twins with his wife Katleen Thijs. They have been married since June 2017.