William Paul Troost-Ekong is a name many fans of Nigeria’s Super Eagle are familiar with. Even though he has been a remarkable addition to the nation’s team since he joined, his performance was exceptional in the African Cup of Nations 2023 outing.
Meanwhile, Troost-Ekong story is a story of forbidden love. A story of a boy whom despite his father insistence he should go to normal school insisted on playing football.
As a kid, he loved football but it was a forbidden love that led to a serious friction in his family between his parents.
He simply refused to give up on his love and it had serious consequences.
His father wanted him to go to school as he didn’t see any future in football for him and at the age of 12 sent him to a boarding school in England.
Ekong got to England and instead of focusing on his studies and gaining admission to the university fell more in love with the game of football.
After 3 years, his father was expecting him to return home with university admission but Ekong returned with documents to gain admission into a football Academy and this infuriated his father who refused to sign the documents.
With just one day remaining for Ekong to get his parents signature to allow him get admission into a football Academy, his mother who had always supported his football dreams signed the documents for him. And this act further drove a wedge in an already “unstable” marriage which later lead to a divorce between his parents and a dispute between him and his father.
Mr. Ekong as a father just wanted the best for his son, an education but all his son wanted was to become a footballer.
Ekong went back to England and joined Tottenham Football Academy in London and it still wasn’t a fairy tale for him as things got even more difficult.
After 3 years at Tottenham, one of the coaches called him and his mum and told them, “Ekong isn’t good enough to become a footballer and that he should give up on football”.
He left the academy but refused to give up on football because he couldn’t afford to go back at this point so he used it as a motivation to keep fighting.
He returned to the Netherlands where he joined a small team called Groningen in 2013 but was sent to FC Dordrecht on loan to help him find his feet as he kept on struggling.
After a year at FC Dordrecht where he did well, he moved to Gent in 2015 to join the Belgium giants but found game time hard to come by.
He switched his national team allegiance from the Netherlands to Nigeria after representing the Netherlands at the Under-19 and 20 youth levels.
This move coincided with an upswing in his career.
He was sent on loan to Norway where he did well and this led to him moving to Turkish club, Bursaspor in 2017.
After a year in Turkey, he earned himself a move to join Italian Serie A side, Udinese.
In 2018 after the World Cup reconciled with his father who could now see his son fulfil his dreams.
Troost Ekong became a very important member of the Udinese team and after 2 years in Italy earned a dream move to the England where he signed for Championship side, Watford, who he helped gain promotion to the EPL in his first season. At this point he was also having a successful international career with Nigeria, winning the Olympic bronze medal with the Nigerian Under-23 and forming a solid rock partnership with Leon Balogun at the national team. A partnership, Nigerians called “The Oyibo Wall”
In January 2023, he joined Italian side, Salernitana where he had an injury hit season and had only 9 appearances. This lead to him being dropped from the National team and even after he moved to Greece where he recovered his form and was playing regularly, he wasn’t still invited back to the Nigerian team and this went on for close to a year and Ekong almost thought of retiring from international football.
After giving it a deep thought, he decided to keep waiting, even when he got a call back, he was always left on the bench but he never stopped working hard.
He regained his place back into the starting line up and made it to the AFCON and since day one has remained the BEST CENTRAL DEFENDER in the tournament and has now led Nigeria to the AFCON finals scoring three high pressure penalties.
[Credit: SportsDokita (Odogwu ??) @Sports_Doctor2]
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