We saw a recent interview of Wilfred Ndidi and these are seven things we learnt from it.
It’s a rare thing to see an in-depth interview of any top Nigerian player where their early life, struggles and triumphs are broken into tiny and emotional pieces.
These players are rarely home for a local Nigerian journalist to get the chance to juice much from them. We are left with the few minutes given to us by the Media Officer of the Super Eagles to get as much as we can get which is never enough.
Back where they are based, Nigerian players are often not the focus of the media, so it’s rare to see a revealing interview with a Nigerian player.
A week ago, however, Melissa Reddy of Joe Uk visited Super Eagles midfielder Wilfred Ndidi at Leicester City’s Belvoir Drive Training Ground for an interview.
Ndidi in the interview talked about life growing up in Lagos, his early struggles in Belgium and life in the Premier League.
These are five things we learnt from the interview.
1. Ndidi is a nice guy and hugely loved by staff at Leicester City
In the introduction to the interview, the writer Reddy revealed how much Ndidi is well liked at Leicester City.
She revealed how Ndidi helped a cameraman who was struggling to move his equipment, held the door for a Leicester City staff carrying a bunch of boxes and greeted everyone around with a warm smile.
“That’s typical Ndidi, it’s always about how he can help,” a Leicester City official told the interviewer.
2. Ndidi stayed with a Belgian couple
When Ndidi went to Belgium for trials, he couldn’t stay in a hotel, so Genk arranged for him to stay with a Belgian couple Theo, Marleen van Vlierden and their son Christophe.
Ndidi is still very close to the family and invites them to England once in a while.
3. Ndidi grew up in the Barracks
Ndidi’s dad was a soldier, a sergeant in the Nigerian army and the midfielder grew up at the Ikeja military cantonment.
He is the eldest of three children.
4. Ndidi was first discovered by Nduka Ugbade
The Super Eagles midfielder was first discovered by former Golden Eaglets captain Nduka Ugbade who was a coach at Command Children School at the Military Cantonment in Ikeja, the school Ndidi attended.
5. Best of the bunch
Ronald Janssen who used to work as a scout for Genk first discovered Ndidi at a local tournament he was playing in with his then club Nath Boys Academy.
With about 40 teams competing in the tournament, there about 500 players featuring that day.
6. He wasn’t given a contract after his first trial
After his first trial at Genk, Ndidi was not given a contract because of at that point he was a non-Eu player under 18, so he returned to Nigeria.
A year, however, he was signed for the bargain fee of £78,000 from Nath Boys.
7. He started as a central defender
Ndidi is currently earning critical applause for his performances as a defensive midfielder but he started as a defender at Genk before he was converted.