Abdullahi: Isale Eko kid who idolises Antony



The popular Campos mini-stadium on the bustling Lagos Island is a hub for sports activities where fresh, skilled and talented footballers are discovered.

Akinremi Abdullahi, a seven-year-old pupil of St. Stephen Primary School, Lagos Island, is one of the talented footballers that train at the stadium with his teammates.

The kid, who grew up in the ever-busy and densely populated Isale Eko spoke to PUNCH Sports Extra and started playing football at four.

Though his right foot is the stronger of his feet, the attack-minded Abdullahi, who can play as a No.9 or winger, is a sight to behold on the ball with both legs.

He’s fast and full of trickery for a seven-year-old; in fact, give Abdullahi a yard at your peril!

Interestingly, Abdullahi never wanted to play football, but fate played a fast one on him when coach Oluwasegun Peters watched him play and took interest in him.

He has enjoyed the backing of his parents ever since.

“When I started playing football, my parents bought me jerseys, boots and other kits that I used in training, they made all my kits available,” Abdullahi said.

Akinremi Abdullahi

And coming from a home that has everyone supporting English giants Manchester United, Abdullahi idolises Brazilian forward Antony for his sublime skills.

“I would like to be like Antony at Manchester United. I like the way he moves with the ball, very strong and skilful and always creates problems for defenders. My style of play is similar to his and I watch him a lot, so, I can learn more from the way he plays,” he added.

“I also like watching Manchester United, it’s the best club and that is why I watch my star player whenever he plays for the Red Devils. I love the club because all my family members support the club.”

“I want to play in Europe and if the time comes, I will love to play for my dream club Manchester United even if the offers from other clubs are more, United remain my dream club.”

He also admires Nigerian stars Napoli’s Victor Osimhen and Leicester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho as the two best players he likes in the current Super Eagles team.

“The players I love so much in the Eagles are Iheanacho and Osimhen. I like Osimhen because he can score goals and is a very strong player and Iheanacho for his skills.

Combining education and sports hasn’t come easy, though, for the kid.

“When I close from school in the afternoon, I rest a bit and go for training at 4pm. I do this regularly and it has been tough.”

He, however, hopes to complete his education before veering fully into football.

“I want to be a football star, but I would like to continue with my education before becoming a professional footballer.”

Oluwasegun Peters, the coach of Varsity Football Academy, says he reached out to Abdullahi’s parents to allow the lad to join his academy after watching him play street football.

“Abdullahi is a talented attacker and always scores for the team in most of the matches we play. He was in primary three when he joined us and now he is in primary six. He has spent three years with us. He is the captain of the team but still needs more time to grow and have the opportunity to travel outside the country to continue his career,” Peters told PUNCH Sports Extra.

“I take him like my son because I convinced his parents to allow him to play football. The parents wanted him to focus on his education, but I was able to make them see reasons why they should allow him to play for my academy. His parents sometimes attended our competitions and watch him play and are excited to see their son play better.

“He won the Most Valuable Player in our recent competition we played at Ikeja. Eight teams participated and he was voted the best player Varsity Football Academy won the final 5-3 in a penalty shootout after a full-time score ended in a goalless draw.”

Abdullahi says travelling to play in competitions have come in helpful as he looks towards a successful career in future.

“The way we train and the opportunity the coach gives me to play in competitions within Lagos has helped me a lot. Sometimes, we travel to other states to play tournaments.”