JUWON OSHANIWA today spoke out about the visa issues delaying his move to Hearts and insisted: “I’ll be on the first flight to Edinburgh when I have all the paperwork.”
The Nigerian is stuck in his country’s capital, Abuja, and revealed he must wait at least another few days for permission to fly to the UK.
Speaking exclusively to the Evening News, Oshaniwa said he can’t wait to become a Hearts player and begin his career in Scotland. He has already spoken with head coach Robbie Neilson and should sign a long-term contract with the Edinburgh club once the visa is stamped.
His UK work permit application was approved earlier this month, but the player is frustrated by the visa delay, which is now into its third week. Hearts officials have contacted the UK embassy in Nigeria and hope the situation will be resolved in a matter of days. Oshaniwa, Nigeria’s World Cup left-back in Brazil last summer, explained that he is just waiting to board a plane.
“I’ve been following and monitoring Hearts along with my agent since they showed interest in me. This is a very good team with good, young players and I like the way they play,” said the 24-year-old. “They have good fans and a good atmosphere. Even the technical team are good people with good instincts and good thoughts.
That is why I said this is the place for me. When I spoke to the coach, I was motivated and encouraged. I just can’t wait to go and work with him. The way he talks, with total humility, and his desire wanting me to come to the club, I just can’t wait to play under him.
“The important thing was getting the work permit, that’s the most difficult part. That has already been secured. I don’t think the visa will be a problem but I must wait. If I get the visa today, I’m telling you, I will see you in Edinburgh tomorrow. I will fly from the international airport here in Abuja to Heathrow. It takes six hours. Then I will fly to Scotland so it should be about seven hours in total. As soon as I get my passport back I will be on my way.”
Oshaniwa has spent the last three seasons playing in Israel with Ashdod. Previously, he was with Nigerian clubs Kwara United, Lobi Stars and Sharks. Celtic were credited with an interest in him earlier this year but he stressed he had no hesitation in agreeing to join Hearts.
“It never took me any time to decide,” he continued. “The offer came and I was like, ‘Hearts is a good team’. We had been talking and trying to reach my club to come to an agreement. I never had a second thought because I know Hearts is a great club. They have a collection of young players who have good prospects and they are champions. The name of the club implies heart of the country so I am really looking forward to being part of the Hearts family.”
Oshaniwa admitted he has not been given a reason for the visa hold up and is finding the protracted saga difficult. “I don’t know what the delay is. I got a message from the embassy saying they are still processing the visa. I was surprised because it has been more than 15 working days now. I sent their email on to the human resources manager at Hearts. They called the embassy to find out what the problem is and said we should exercise patience for two to three working days. The lady sincerely apologised. It’s very difficult and I’m not happy at all.”
The full-back is trying to remain positive and believes there is much he can achieve once he eventually gets to Tynecastle. “I’m a positive person and football is all about setting a target,” he said. “To aspire to great things in your career, you have to have a positive target ahead of yourself. For me, deciding to join Hearts is a chance to use what God has given me to achieve great things in Scotland this season and in subsequent seasons.
“When I am going to a new place, I have the desire to get there early so I can acclimatise to the conditions. There will be new faces and a new team and we want to carry on and have a good start to the season. I am a professional. Only God has the answer to everything. Only he knows why things are like this and I have to wait.”