SCOTLAND’S Euro 2016 qualifier in Dublin this weekend could be viewed as the occasion wherein Ikechi Anya’s father finally makes his peace with his son’s chosen profession.
Academia was always the driver for Dr Chinasa Anya, a research scientist whose pursuit of a doctorate at Oxford University led to his family leaving Glasgow, where the Watford winger was born and spent his early years, almost two decades ago. He wanted it to be for his offspring too, as it proved with his eldest son now doctor.
Until recently, Nigerian Chinasa Anya hadn’t taken much interest in his younger son’s football career. However, the 27-year-old’s burgeoning success in his field – automatic promotion to the English top flight having been earned with his London club last month – has altered his perception. At the Aviva Stadium on Saturday he will watch his 13-times capped son playing international football for the first time.
“He wanted me to pursue the education route but as a dad, he wants to support his son and of late he has been getting into it a lot more,” said Ikechi Anya. “He has been coming to Watford games and it is good that Ireland will be his first Scotland game. I wasn’t so mad because any dad is obviously going to want the best for his son. You live on your own experiences and he wanted me to get an education.
“I don’t blame him for that because that was his upbringing.If he wants to support his son as a father, I’m more than happy to get him tickets.
“If he thinks football is a waste of time, that’s his prerogative but I live and let live. But if you’ve got a son who is now a Premier League player and an international, maybe he made the right choice.”
Anya chose to forgo any rest time in his bid to be primed for the Republic. He may not have played for more than a month before his appearance in Friday night’s friendly win over Qatar but the physios at Watford had to rein in his work-outs over recent weeks.
“I really want to qualify for France. They understand the passion I’ve got,” he said. “It’s not every day you get opportunities like this.”