Ndidi

Ndidi: How I Dumped Schooling For Footballing Career

 

Super Eagles and Leicester City midfielder Wilfred Ndidi has revealed how he skipped schooling to pursue a career in football.

Ndidi, 20, made the revelation in an exclusive interview with Leicester Mercury.

Ndidi disclosed how he went as far as disobeying his father, a soldier,  who wanted him to put his education before football.

"My family were not really into football," he said.

"My dad wanted me to go to school, not play football.

"My dad watched it on the television but he didn't want me to play football. He is a soldier, but he didn't want me to follow in his footsteps, he just wanted me to go to school.

"I did miss out on some school because of football. When I moved to Nath Boys academy, then I started to miss out on some of my schooling.

"My family haven't been over to see me play yet. They only see it on TV."

Ndidi reminisced on how his journey from Nath Boys Academy took him to Genk in Belgium.

"I remember kicking a ball around as a child, but I was not in any training or anything," he said.

"I just had a very small ball and I just kicked it around by my home.

"I was 14 when I joined Nath Boys Academy. We played in a competition and a scout from Genk was there. I was 16 or 17 when they came in for me.

"I was offered a trial at Genk and the president of Nath Boys came with me to Belgium for the trials.

"It was very different to what I was used to but before that I had been travelling with Nath Boys and we played in a tournament in Portugal. We had played against Hull City and Celtic, so it wasn't completely new."

Ndidi commented on how he impressed former Scotland, Rangers, Birmingham City and Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish at Genk which made the Scottish coach hand him his debut.

"Alex McLeish wasn't the manager when I came for the trials, but he came shortly after and he said he had seen me in training and he liked me," he recalled.

"He is a good man. He said he was going to play me out of position.

"I had come as a central defender but he tried me at left- back and then right-back. I had actually started playing as a forward, but that was before I got into serious football.

"I made my debut at left-back against Charleroi and I was substituted in the 72nd minute because of cramp.

"I never thought I would end up playing in midfield because I was a centre-back. I used to enjoy watching John Terry. Chelsea were my team.

"My first game in midfield was after McLeish left and the new coach moved me into midfield.

"I was nervous. It was all new and I felt out of position. The coach would scream at me a lot. I had to try to focus on the game and try to ignore his shouting. It was difficult for me at first.

"I enjoyed it when I began to feel more settled."

On why he decided to join Leicester and his debut against Everton, the former Flying Eagles midfielder said:

"I was not told Leicester were watching me. 

"I was told different clubs were watching me but I told my manager not to tell me because I didn't want it in my head.

"I just wanted to play and if it comes then it is okay. I tried to manage myself so I wasn't thinking too much about it.

"It was unbelievable what happened last season. 

"No-one expected it. It was a fairytale. It didn't help in my decision though. It was an easy decision to come to Leicester and to the Premier League.

"When I was going on to the pitch I was nervous, seeing players like Romelu Lukaku and the players I was used to seeing on television," he said.

"But when the game started I was like 'okay, let's just do it.' 

"That is how I try to do things.

"That is the way I live."

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