Arnold Origi changes citizenship, snubs Stars call up

Arnold Origi on Wednesday called time on his international football career spanning 12 years in interesting fashion, by dropping his Kenyan citizenship altogether.

The veteran custodian confirmed as much while also snubbing coach Stanley Okumbi’s latest call-up to the national team ahead of an international friendly tie against Mozambique in Maputo on September 2.

“We have been in contact and he confirmed he is no longer available for call-ups as he now has a Norwegian passport,” Football Kenya Federation’s media liaison Barry Otieno said.

Origi last played for the national team in their shock 1-0 loss to minnows Guinea Bissau at Nyayo Stadium in a 2017 Cup of Nations qualifier in March last year.

The 33-year-old custodian, who currently is attached to top tier Norwegian club Lillestrom, is said to have exercised his option of taking up Norwegian citizenship, having resided in the European country for the past decade.

During that spell, he represented third division side FK Moss, second tier side ULL Kisa plus his current club.

Norwegian rules allow for a foreigner to pick up citizenship if he/she marries a local resident, or if he/she has resided in the country for seven consecutive years without a criminal record.

Origi was handed his Stars debut by then coach Mohammed Kheri in a game against Ghana at the Nyayo Stadium on March 21, 2005.

He eventually became a darling of the passionate Kenyan fanbase with some standout performance such as during the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Uganda in Kampala.

He also experienced some unforgettable moments, such as that goof against Eritrea at Kasarani in 2007, when his goal-line “clearance” ended up in his own net.

Incidentally, Origi who is son of Gor Mahia and Harambee Stars legend Austin Oduor, joins his younger cousin Divock Origi in dumping Kenya.

Divock chose Belgium in 2014 despite several overtures by then Stars coach Adel Amrouche.

He went on to star for the European nation at the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil, performances that eventually earned him a move to top English side Liverpool.

In Origi’s permanent absence, Boniface Oluoch and Patrick Matasi attached to local sides Gor Mahia and Posta Rangers respectively, are expected to compete for the starting role in goal.

Origi last featured for the national team in March 2016.

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