Exclusive: Josh Maja reveals why he snubbed Premier League interest at Sunderland - and his big England international call
Josh Maja has revealed why he snubbed interest from the Premier League during his spell at Sunderland – and set his sight on France instead.
His move to Bordeaux was perhaps a surprising one given some of the English top flight sides rumoured to be interested during his time at Sunderland.
So why Les Girondins?
“There were a few other clubs, different clubs in Europe and in the Championship and the Premier League, but Bordeaux showed the most interest and that was it.
“One of the main reasons I came here was to be trying to play at the highest level.
“Being given the opportunity to play is a blessing and I’m just grateful for every opportunity.”
Maja has netted twice this season in 12 appearances as he continues to form part of Bordeaux’s first-team plans, despite his tender years,
But is hasn’t been all plain-sailing since his move across the Channel, with a ligament injury curtailing his progress towards the end of last season.
For Maja, it was a tough blow to take.
“It was quite difficult because that was my first start under the new coach,” he admitted.
“I thought I did well in the game, I scored, and then it was really frustrating.
“But that’s part of football and I knew what I needed to do.
“I’ve had injuries before and I’ve dealt with them fine so it wasn’t a big problem for me.
“I just needed to focus and work as hard as possible to get back, and that’s what I’ve done.”
And since his comeback, things have progressed well for the former Sunderland striker - not just on a domestic basis, either.
Maja earned his first cap for Nigeria in September, having decided to represent the Super Eagles over England.
“It was good to get the call-up a few weeks back,” said the striker.
“It was quite unexpected, but the Nigeria squad is quite young, so for me it was a good chance to show what I can do.
“Hopefully in the future I get more opportunities.”
“I think it was always going to be Nigeria,” he continued.
“I mean, it’s the first team - and if it were England then it would probably only be the youth teams. Nigeria was a no-brainer.”
But with Bordeaux and Maja himself having enjoyed a strong start to the season - what is he eyeing in the coming months?
“Individually I want to play as many games as possible at this level and keep improving my game, keep learning and striving to be better as a player.
“As a person it’s about living in a different country and adapting to life.
“As a team, I think we can do whatever we want as long as we work hard and give our all every game.
“This season we can maybe go for a Europa League or Champions League place. If we perform well in games and get good results then I think it’s possible.”
And while Maja’s gaze will be on the Champions League, he will always keep a close eye on his former club and their quest for promotion.
“To see them not get promoted was really upsetting, and I wished them all the best when I left.
“But that’s just football, you have to bounce back the best you can and hopefully they do that this season.”