APPIANO GENTILE – From his arrival in Italy to his passion for Inter, his personal life, heroes, tastes and memories: tonight Prima Serata (Inter Channel, 21:00) is all about Joel Obi.
"I was born in Lagos in Nigeria and then I moved to Italy with my parents. My passion for Inter first began when we lived in Parma, Ronaldo was playing for the Nerazzurri at the time and I absolutely loved watching him. Zanetti was already at the club – he’s a legend. That’s how I became an Inter fan and so it was a dream come true when I joined the academy."
A montage in the studio begins with Obi’s goal for the Allievi Nazionali (Under-17s) in the 2007/08 championship final against Empoli: "Inter were crowned champions thanks to my goal, it was amazing. We had a great bond in that team, there was Mattia Destro, Luca Caldirola, Davide Santon, we were all close friends."
Destro then appears with a video message for his former team-mate with Joel saying: "He’s always been one of my best mates and we enjoyed playing together."
The Inter man then explains it doesn’t usually take him long to develop an understanding with his team-mates, saying: "I fit in very well, and genuinely get on with everyone, I’ve never had any problems."
From Destro the talk switches to Caldirola, who captained Obi. Joining the studio via phone, he speaks in glowing terms about his former team-mate: "Joel is a great guy aside from being a great player, we used to give him the ball and he’d win us games." The Nigerian spoke with pride about his friend’s compliments: "It’s nice when praise comes from your team-mates, actually, it’s even better."
Just to make sure he knows how highly thought of he is, we hear from Daniele Bernazzini who was in charge of the Allievi Nazionali in 2007/08 and is someone Obi respects and holds in high esteem ("Bernazzini was very important for me, he turned me into a central midfielder, I used to play off the front"): "It’s true," explains the current coach of the Primavera. "I’ve always considered Obi to be a central midfielder but he happened to play support striker and he scored a few important goals playing there… just like the one in the league final. Joel is someone who picks things up very quickly, he’s good at every aspect of the game, he just needs to get into more goal-scoring positions. It’s a shame that injuries have held him back slightly, but this is certainly through no fault of his own."
All this and a lot more on Inter Channel at 21:00, while you can catch the second instalment at 19:00 here on inter.it