Arnold Origi’s decision to drop his Kenyan nationality last year could prove vital in the player’s quest to force through a dream move to England.
According to reports in the English media, the former Harambee Stars goalkeeper, who is attached to Norwegian outfit Lillestrom, is currently undergoing trials at English Premier League side Crystal Palace.
“I think Arnold has played his last game for us. We wish him luck with his career,” Lillestrom coach Arne Erladnsen is quoted saying in English daily newspaper, The Sun.
“He is not training with us because he has requested permission to work out with a club in England. He is there for an indefinite period,” the club’s sporting director Simon Mesfin is also quoted in the same paper.
Palace, which is currently ranked 14th on the 20-team table standings after 22 games, has, however, yet to publicly comment on this move.
The 33-year Origi exchanged his Kenyan passport for a Norwegian one in June, a move that automatically forced him to call time on a 12-year stint with Harambee Stars as Norway laws don’t support dual nationality.
“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 media liaison said on August 23.
Even though the relationship between FKF and Origi was far from rosy at the time, the Norwegian passport hands Origi an advantage of travelling directly to London – where Palace and his childhood friend Victor Wanyama are based – from Oslo.
With a Kenyan passport however, the celebrated keeper, would have been forced to travel to Nairobi and spend about two weeks processing a UK visa.
If he finally convinces former England coach Roy Hodgson to hand him a contract at Selhurst Park, Origi – who is engaged to Tanzanian model Zulekha Ibrahim Allym – is likely to start his career in England as second choice keeper at Palace behind Wayne Hennessey, considering the other custodian, Julian Speroni is, at 38, approaching the sunset of his illustrious career.
Son of Kenyan legend Austin Oduor and cousin to Werder Bremen star Divock, Origi has enjoyed an illustrious football career spanning 16 years.
He started out at Kenyan clubs Mathare United and Tusker and then transferred to Norway, initially at third division club FK Moss.
He then had a spell at second division club Fredikstad, Ull/Kisa, before landing at Lillestrom four years ago.
Last year was arguably Origi’s most successful in Europe, as he helped his club win the domestic cup following a 3-2 victory over Sarpsborg in a thrilling final,.
The result earned the side qualification to the 2018/2018 Uefa Europa League.