How Lagos slum is producing top Nigerian football talent
Nigeria’s so called ‘tough’ slum has been producing some of the very best when it comes to international football, so this leads many people on to the question of why such a small community could do such an amazing thing.
It is one of the most vicious places in Nigeria, yet they are defying all odds and continuing to impress on the international football stage. Just one example of this is Taribo West; he went on to play over 100 times for his country!
For a football mad nation like Nigeria, talent can be found in every corner, but there’s definitely something special about Ajegunle (in Lagos) because they keep on delivering. Considering that no-one in the area of Ajegunle is rich by any stretch of the imagination, which means that they must only be playing on a bit of soil, makes it even more impressive!
Famous names such as Taribo West, Odion Ighalo, Brown Ideye, Samson Siasia, Obafemi Martins and Jonathan Akpoborie all started at this small town in Nigeria.
Ighalo had been ripping up most of the Premier League’s defences before going to Chinese team Changchun Yatai FC for the past year since signing for Watford. Despite being slightly overshadowed by the Hornets’ star striker, Troy Deeney, he has had an amazing upbringing and has had the privilege of playing for Sunday league clubs and academies in England.
Super Eagle’s striker Akpoborie, who played to a high standard, also honed his skills here, he quoted: “This is actually the home of football in Nigeria,” Akpoborie told BBC Sport, adding that the game is seen by many youngsters as a route to a better life.
Akpoborie also went on to say: “I don’t want to downgrade the area by attributing the success of footballers to poverty but there’s just nothing to do for the kids, They spend most of their time here playing football and in so doing they develop themselves and naturally become gifted footballers.”
After he spoke about how the beautiful game affects children, he started to discuss the Nigerian national team; stating: “In the Nigerian national team there’s always one player who originated from Ajegunle. It’s exactly how I started – the grown-ups play first, we watch them play, then eventually we get in the field. They were inspirational to us.”
Nigeria are becoming more and more known as football progresses even further as a sport but Nigeria just have that special something. Whether they will ever win a World Cup or the Africa Cup of Nations is unknown, but they certainly are progressing in the footballing industry.
Editor’s note: This is Will’s 50th article for YJA – a superb achievement, congratulations!
Will, YJA Sports Correspondent
Senior Young Journalist
Year 6, Heighington Millfield Primary Academy