When opportunity knocks, do not knock it. Called up for the first time by Belgium coach Georges Leekens for the UEFA EURO 2012 qualifiers against Kazakhstan and Austria, KRC Genk striker Marvin Ogunjimi might have counted himself lucky to get a few minutes of football this week.
As it was, with Romelu Lukaku withdrawn at half-time in Friday's Group A game in Kazakhstan, Ogunjimi was given a whole half to prove his worth. He promptly scored both of his side's goals in a 2-0 win. "This is a boyhood dream come true," he said. "I was happy just to be in the squad, but when you then get a full second half to prove yourself and score twice, that would be anyone's dream."
Ogunjimi registered again on Tuesday when Belgium came within seconds of a 4-3 home win against Austria, only to concede an added-time equaliser. Had they held on, it would have been a sensational way for him to celebrate his 23rd birthday. "I got given a birthday cake in the afternoon but took it home with me – I didn't really have a party," he said. "On Sunday, Genk play a big match against Standard and there wasn't much to celebrate after that late goal."
Born in Belgium to a Nigerian father and Belgian mother – and named in honour of singer Marvin Gaye – Ogunjimi might have opted to play for his parents' home country after being long-listed for the Super Eagles' FIFA World Cup squad. "If I had made the final selection, I would have certainly gone to the World Cup," he admitted. "However, I have no regrets about having decided to stick with Belgium now. I am proud to be Belgian."
Back at home, Ogunjimi's partnership with Jelle Vossen has been crucial in sending Genk top of the Belgian First League – they have 15 top-flight goals between them this term. The pair combined well for Belgium too. Both Ogunjimi goals against Kazakhstan came from rebounds from Vossen shots, and he returned the favour by setting up his 21-year-old team-mate to score the opener against Austria, Vossen's first national-team goal.
Genk coach Frank Vercauteren said: "It is lovely to see their success in the league reflected at internatonal level. They played really well. But the bar will be raised a little higher now. They have to keep their feet on the ground." Ogunjimi understands that. "Scoring three goals in one and a half internationals is great, but I am not there yet. I have not proved anything and must keep working hard."
©UEFA.com 1998-2017. All rights reserved.