Nedum Onuoha: ‘I Never Go Out And Feel 100 Percent Safe’
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Real Salt Lake defender Nedum Onuoha, who originally hails from Warri, Nigeria, has lived in the United States for nearly two years after joining the club in September 2018. In a recent interview with the BBC, Onuoha confessed to never feeling “100 percent safe.”
The interview comes during a time of civil unrest in the United States, as millions of Americans continue to take to the streets in protest of the death of George Floyd and police brutality against people of color.
Floyd was handcuffed and pinned to the ground by a Minnesota police officer on May 25, 2020. The officer – who has now been fired and arrested – held his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes. The officer involved has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
“I am comfortable but when it comes to any kind of brutality, if it’s from the police, if they read me the wrong way then my life could be taken. I feel that every single day. It is not just me but everybody else as well,” Onuoha said, “I am not trying to be overly critical to the police, there are plenty of good police officers out there, but sometimes I feel like people put police on a pedestal and make them seem superhuman,” he added.
Growing Up In England
Onuoha grew up in Manchester, England, where he excelled as a student and soccer player. Following his high school graduation, Onuoha signed his first professional soccer contract with his home club, Manchester City.
Following his eight years at Manchester City, Onuoha added stints with Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers to his resume. He played a total of 14 years in England’s top-flight soccer league, the English Premier League, before making the move across the pond and taking his talents to Real Salt Lake in Major League Soccer.
The Difference Between UK and US
On May 15, 2020, Onuoha joined Spencer Warne and myself on the Lions Den podcast. During the conversation, Onuoha admitted that the move to the United States from England was a “no brainer” as he “wanted to travel the world and play (soccer) outside of England.”
Unfortunately, as much as Onuoha has enjoyed playing for Real Salt Lake, the constant concern for his and his family’s safety weighs on him.
“I never go out and feel 100 percent safe,” Onuoha told BBC, “In the UK, I am more comfortable because if something happens it probably will not be deadly – but over here because of their rights it is more common that altercations become deadly. I am always very aware of that whenever I go around anywhere.”
As for the protests, Onuoha said the demand for justice is “emotional” and “overdue.’ He said he feels empowered by non-black voices getting involved.
MLS United Against Racism
On June 1st, Major League Soccer released a statement regarding their stance against racism.
“We stand united with the black community throughout our country and share in the pain, anger and frustration,” MLS stated.
“We are committed to use our voices and the platform of our league, our clubs and players to continue to champion equality and social justice,” the league added.
Tom Hackett is a Utah and Real Salt Lake Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the It’s Utah’s World Podcast (Utah Football themed) and The Lion’s Den Podcast (Real Salt Lake themed). Follow him on Twitter: @TomCantHackett.