With his small stature and a disarming smile, thirteen-year-old Abdullahi Alabi Azeez has earned the nickname of ‘Messi’ among his peers. Azeez who was born in Lagos, as the fourth child of six children to a trader father, did not grow up to know his mother, as she died when he was still at a tender age.The left-footer who comes across as rather small for his age – which also explains the Messi comparison – runs around the field with a passion that makes it difficult not to see him as the centre of attention. His low centre of gravity and quick dribbling was quick to catch the eyes of many, at the on-going COPA Coca-Cola U-15 football tourney, where the young ‘Messi’ is representing Lagos State, through his school, Rockford College Ikorodu, Lagos.
With amazing dribbling skills and control, the nifty dribbler whose little stature does not demean his potentials on the playing field has an eye for the goal, and he is already showing signs of being as famous as the Argentine Barcelona superstar whom we all know by the name, of Messi.
Just like his mentor, Lionel Messi, Azeez’s teammates can rely on him when the game gets tough and he has proven to be a trusted member of the team to his colleagues and coach on different occasions, such as the hat-trick he scored at the COPA Coca-Cola grassroots final that made his school the champion of Lagos state and the team to represent the state at the regional leg of the competition. He also won his team the maximum points by scoring a 90th-minute goal in the first group match against the young counterparts from Ondo state at the COPA Coca-Cola regional group stage.
Azeez is a resilient player and has played every single minute for his team at the ongoing COPA Coca-Cola U-15 tourney. His coach would still be trusting the skilful ‘Messi’ at the National finals of the competition where eight champions from different states across Nigeria will battle out to emerge as this year’s champion.
It is not too early to hope that Azeez can be as good as the Argentine superstar, even as it appears like there is time on his side. At this time, we can simply thank Coca-Cola for helping Nigerian kids like him showcase their footballing talent!
Name: Abdullahi Alabi Azeez
Born: November 11, 2001 (age 13), Lagos, Nigeria
Height: 1.4 m
School: Rockford College Ikorodu
Class: J.S.S 2
Hubby: Reading, Playing and watching football