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Ten Nigerian Youngsters Receive Mixed Fortunes In England

^Faustino Anjorin

By Femi Fasetire

Ten Nigerian-born youngsters in England have found mixed fortunes coming their way with their respective clubs, with varying values coming their way – ranging from conquests of youth competitions, confirmation in squad rosters for the new season and signing new contracts.

This means the five lads under review ended the immediate past season with achievements on both team and personal levels, such that the story of the moment is about both collective and individual gains that should boost their morale heading into the new campaign with their clubs.

The story begins with Chelsea’s fast-rising youth team midfielder, Faustino Anjorin, who ended the season as The Blues’ leading scorer in the English Premier League 2, with his haul of five goals in 11 matches confirming the 18-year-old dazzler as a sure bet for future glory.

Anjorin continues making waves after getting his league debut in a 4-0 victory over Everton on March 8; while his teammate and fellow-Nigerian-born midfielder, Tariq Uwakwe is also looking good at age 2-0, although his only goal of the campaign came in a 2-1 win over Manchester City in November.

^Tariq Uwakwe

They also have collective gains to flaunt, having helped Chelsea become only the third club to win the EPL2 title after its commencement in the 2016/17 season; though The Blues were only awarded the title after the 2019/20 season was halted in May due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On the other hand, Dillon Hoogewerf, Shola Shoretire and Ayodeji Sotona are in line to debut for Manchester United in the English Premier League 2 Division One next season, as The Red Devils got promotion to the elite class of youth football in Queensland when the final table was arrived at on points-per-game basis.

^Ayodeji Sotona

Hoogewerf, Shoretire and Sotona become collective gainers after the season was cut short by coronavirus with five matches remaining, and their side occupied second position on the log of Division Two with 43 points, three less than top-placed West Ham United.

That provided the leverage for Hoogewerf, who made his debut for United’s under-23 team in the EPL2 Division Two last season and will now hope to debut in Division One in the upcoming season; while 16-year-old Shoretire has also received ‘double promotion’ of sort, as he is yet to make his competitive bow with the squad, despite training regularly with them.   

^Shola Shoretire

Shoretire and Hoogewerf, will readily receive tips from the more experienced Sotona, who is also expected to line-out with the under-23 side again this season, despite having already seen action in the EFL Trophy competition, when he featured against League One side, Tranmere Rovers in December.

A different scenario has unfolded for Fulham's trio of Sylvester Jasper, Michael Olakigbe and Idris Odutayo, as they missed an opportunity to feature in the prestigious UEFA Youth League next season, because their team finished runners-up in the English U18 Premier League, despite placing top of the log in the South segment.

^Idris Odutayo

Jasper, Michael and Odutayo were actually top of the log when the season was called off due to coronavirus but they fell behind Manchester City on the combined log, after The Citizens won the U18 Premier League North and were declared overall champions via the points per game approach that was implemented when coronavirus cut the season short.

While 18-year-old Jasper, who made two appearances off the bench for Fulham’s main team in the English Championship and played against Manchester City in the FA Cup, scored six goals in 13 matches during the season for Fulham U18s, Olakigbe netted just once in three games and Odutayo featured with a goal in 17 games.

^Ryan Alebiosu

In a different scale, this time on a personal level, 18-year-old Ryan Alebiosu has signed his first professional contract with Arsenal, where he has recently been in training with The Gunners’ under-23 squad at Emirates Stadium.

Alebiosu, who joined Arsenal at the age of seven, after the very versatile precocious lad, who can play as right-winger, right-back or right-wing-back , was spotted by a scout while playing for a community club, Lyndhurst, signed a new two-year deal, with an option for him to extend by a further two years.

^Josh Emmanuel

Similarly, English League One outfit, Hull City have extended their tradition of signing Nigerian players with the acquisition of highly-promising right-back Josh Emmanuel, who will now aim to follow the footsteps of Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha, Omatsone ‘Sone’ Aluko, Ola Aina, Bukayo Saka and Hope Akpan at The Tigers.

This comes after the 22-year-old Emmanuel, who developed with the youth team of West Ham United before moving to Ipswich Town and then joined Bolton Wanderers last year, put pen to paper on a two-year deal with The Tigers, with an option to extend by a further year.

The London-born Emmanuel, who has 100 appearances in the league, has already gained sweet words from Hull’s coach, Grant McCann, as The Tigers’ gaffer reeled out superlatives to describe various technical qualities and assets he believes the youngster will bring into his team.

McCann stated: "Josh has all the physical tools needed to be a modern day full-back. He’s tall, strong and is rarely beaten for pace, which also highlights just how good he is in one-on-one situations – both attacking and defensively.

“He is comfortable on the ball, likes to get forward and, once there, can deliver dangerous balls into the box. The commitment and desire he has shown to become part of a squad looking for promotion has been first class. I’m delighted to have him on board and look forward to working with him."

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England Everton Faustino Anjorin Manchester City Nigerian

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