GLENDALE, Arizona (Reuters) - Two-times All-Pro defensive tackle Osi Umenyiora is keen to see the New York Giants make a return trip to London.
The NFC champions edged the Miami Dolphins 13-10 last October on a rainy day at London’s Wembley Stadium in the first regular season NFL game played outside North America.
Following the success of that trip, British-born Umenyiora told reporters on Tuesday that he could not understand why other NFL teams were reluctant to make the trans-Atlantic journey.
“I don’t understand it, to be honest with you,” he said.
”A lot of those players have never left Dallas, or the confines of where they were born. They should go to London and have an experience like that.
“It didn’t hurt us. I don’t understand what the big deal is about.”
Many teams are squeamish about making the trip during the regular season because, they believe, the time change would disrupt their preparations for the following week’s game.
The 26-year-old Umenyiora believes the success of this year’s Giants team belies that argument.
New York has won three straight playoff games and will face the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl at the University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday.
Despite the thrill of returning home for the game, Umenyiora said the Wembley field was not equipped to handle a driving rainstorm. Both the Giants and the Dolphins had trouble with their footing on the wet surface.
“The only problem with the whole experience was the way the field was that day,” he said.
”The field really wasn’t a football field. It was made for soccer, which is a totally different field.
“But besides that, it was great. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”
Umenyiora, who left the Golders Green area of north London at the age of seven for Nigeria, said he was excited to reach the NFL championship game.
“Life is crazy,” he told reporters.
“You never know where life is going to take you. Coming from where I‘m coming from, from Golders Green to Nigeria and to be here in the Super Bowl, it’s just an amazing journey. It’s hard to put into words.”
Umenyiora will not be the only British-born player on the field Sunday.
Lawrence Tynes, who kicked the game-winning field goal in the Giants’ 23-20 overtime victory over the Green Packers in the NFC title game, was born in Scotland.
“This is just great,” Umenyiora said. “We played a game in London that I was very excited about. Now, the fact that we’re both here in the Super Bowl, representing London, is an amazing accomplishment.”
Editing by John O'Brien