Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 1 October 2020

Former Manchester City defender Nedum Onuoha 'never feels 100 per cent safe' living in United States

Nigeria-born footballer plies his trade for MLS side Real Salt Lake in Utah

Nedum Onuoha has played for Real Salt Lake since 2018. Reuters
Nedum Onuoha has played for Real Salt Lake since 2018. Reuters

Former Manchester City defender Nedum Onuoha has said he never feels completely safe in the United States, where he has lived since 2018, and has a "fear and distrust" of police in the country.

Speaking following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis last week, Nigeria-born Onuoha said he was "always wary of how I behave and how it could be viewed by people who have power".

"I don't like to say it but I have a fear and distrust towards police," Onuoha, who plays for Real Salt Lake in Major League Soccer, told the BBC.

"I have loved living in this country but there's [another] side ... I never go out and feel 100 per cent safe."

Onuoha, who spent six years at Queen's Park Rangers before joining Utah-based Real, said gun laws in the United States had contributed to his fears.

"In the UK I'm more comfortable because if something happens it probably will not be deadly. But over here because of their rights it's more common that altercations become deadly," he said.

"I'm comfortable but when it comes to any kind of brutality, if it's from the police, if they read me the wrong way then my life could be taken. I feel that every single day."

Onuoha, 33, has thrown his support behind the protests that are sweeping across the United States, saying such a widespread reaction has been a long time coming.

"It is emotional; it is something that is overdue to be honest. There has been a big wave of energy towards this, there has been a lot of talk about George Floyd - these issues have been around for decades," he said.

"People have been trying to make noise. I have been trying to say things but it gets pushed away for too long. Enough is enough; what gives me strength is that it's not just black people who are protesting now.

"The change will come but within that, there are so many nuanced things within the protest - for example, a lot of black people are scared to do what some of the white people are doing to the police.

"It's crazy to see but it is very necessary. I am not going to say to them that they shouldn't do anything because they haven't been heard for this long so let them be heard now."

Updated: June 3, 2020 10:11 AM

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