Interview of Emmanuel Okorougo

19 January 2017

Former IIL student, Emmanuel Okorougo recently took the time to answer some questions regarding his exciting new chapter in his life. Emmanuel attended IIL from 2009 to 2015 along with his brother Shawn before moving to The Whitgift School in South London. 

Emmanuel recently signed for English Premier League club Crystal Palace. He began training with the academy in January 2015 whilst waiting for his FIFA International clearance, eventually signing a contract in July after participating in a pre-season tour in Ireland.

Firstly, congratulations on your move, how does it feel to be part of the Crystal Palace set up? 

Thank you! It is exciting and also challenging to be part of the academy of an English Premier League club like Crystal Palace. The standards and expectations are quite high.

How is life at your new school? Have you settled? 

Whitgift school is really special with a student body from many continents, and I have settled really well. I received an entry sports scholarship and I have enjoyed combining my academics with football because of cooperation from my teachers. Boarding life is fun and I am happy to share the experience with my sibling, Shawn who was also at IIL. I am now a house prefect with the responsibility for supporting younger students from diverse cultures.

For your new club, were there many changes that you had to adapt to? Such as a new diet regime, weight training etc…? 

The diet regime is pretty much the same but gym and post match rehabilitation are at a professional level.

How do you find it balancing your studies and training for your new club? 

Whitgift School has really been accommodating in helping me with balancing studies and training at Crystal Palace. While the school’s emphasis is on high academic standards and many students make it to Oxbridge, Whitgift also has a strong tradition in sports. The school regularly graduates students who combine academic success with excellence in different sports. For example, Lawrence Okoye went from Whitgift to San Francisco 49ers in NFL (American football) and has deferred admission to Oxford. Other examples are Victor Moses at Chelsea football club and Marlyne Yard to Harlequins rugby club.

Do you have a particular role model? Any players past or present? 

My main role models have always been Thierry Henry, a former Arsenal and Barcelona player and Antony Martial currently playing for Manchester United.

Where would you like to see yourself in five years time? 

Five years from today I would love to have made good progress on my professional football career as well as my desire to study Sports and Law in university.

What do you miss most about Switzerland? and more importantly, life at IIL? 

I miss my friends, supportive IIL teachers, football teammates and coaches. And of course football on Friday nights in the IIL gym!

Finally, is there any advice you would give to any of the players at IIL wishing to make their mark in the world of football? 

It takes more than passion so aim high, work hard and stay focused on your dream. Most Importantly, do not forget to plan for life after football!

I would like to thank Emmanuel for taking the time to answer the questions put to him and all of us at IIL wish you all the success and luck in your future at your club and academics.

Interview by Matthew Clark