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How Aribo found his way to the Premier League, promise to Marcus Gayle

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Joe Aribo fulfilled a childhood dream on July 9, 2022, when he signed for Southampton in the English Premier League.

In documenting his journey to the Premier League, the 26-year-old midfielder revealed his unusual route, especially for players in the United Kingdom.

“Growing up, I didn’t know any scouts, any agents. So, I’ll say that was definitely a factor, you know,” Aribo told the Premier League YouTube Channel.

“Also, my parents were working and stuff, so it wasn’t like they could just be taking me to football as easily. So I was going by myself. Do you know what I’m saying? I knew I was right, but like, I didn’t feel like I was at the level that other kids were like, so yeah.

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“I just felt like I was a little behind, like, other kids have been in academies, you know. Didn’t even know many footballers playing in the academy. Not many people were even playing football in my area.

“I didn’t even understand scholars and stuff. Like, I was playing under 16s Sunday League.

“Obviously, I knew a lot that I need to get to the academy. I’m getting older. I’m hearing people saying to me ah like “You still going to keep playing football?”

“I’ve got friends around me that have stopped now. Yeah, I did have the pressure, thinking to myself, okay, I need to like get in the system.”

Aribo’s road to the EPL went through Charlton Athletic, from where he moved to Scotland to join Rangers in 2019 for $200,000.
Aribo continued, “I went to Kingston college. This is actually crazy because I was meant to go to a different college. I wanted to go to a different one, but I didn’t get in because I didn’t enrol in time.

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“So, I wasn’t playing any football for any team. I didn’t know what I was going to do in terms of football and then I saw one of my old teammates that I was within the under 16 level and he was at Staines obviously doing the college system and then I was just like, ah, like I’ll get you a trial, he said, you might as well just come down and play.

“So, I literally just went. I did well in my trials. Now I’m playing for Staines Town, also going to Kingston College. It was that, a course, where you do both. It was that, a course, where you do both.

“I’d say it was, it was one, definitely my dad. He wouldn’t have allowed me to just not do anything. So he would have me maybe work or study. And my thing was, if I was working, I wouldn’t really have the energy or, like, time to still pursue football.

So I thought, okay, let me just take the education route, and also, that’s to help me in the long run, anyway.”

Aribo got his big break at Charlton at 19, which was a different route from the normal avenues that many take to the professional ranks.

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“So, I knew it would be good to go to Uni (university), and yeah, I actually struggled like, being there, I didn’t want to be there ever. So I’d be late and stuff, so it just got to a point I couldn’t keep up. I signed for Charlton just before my 19th birthday.

“Marcus Gayle had like a big impact on me. Not even just like, because he got me that trial, but just as a person. He helped me grow on and off the field, you know? He was, like, really good to me. We weren’t doing well as a team, though, so he ended up getting sacked and that’s when he said to me, “make me that promise that you’re going to become a pro”.
“Marcus Gayle said to me he has a friend in Jason Euell, you know. He’s going to get me a trial at Charlton. So, I’ve gone from I’m gonna quit football to now I’ve got trial, all of a sudden. So yeah, it’s a massive impact that he had on me as my first ever trial.

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“It was my first ever trial. So it was like, wow, like, and there were some big players there. You know, Charlton’s got a good academy. I’ve always had that self-belief in myself, but I remember going into the trial thinking, let’s just see what it gets you.

“Do you know what I mean? I didn’t have full belief in myself, I just thought, okay, it’s like your last chance. If you don’t, then we’re just gonna stop playing football. Of course, like, I’m always thankful for the position I’m in to God, you, I’m thankful for everything, and where I am today. Even being alive and what not! That time we won at Wembley was like, up there, with my greatest moments in football. Cause you know, that’s like the first major one I ever got to experience was Wembley, you know?”

In three years, since 2019, when he joined Rangers under Steven Gerrard’s management, Aribo has won a league title, become an international with Nigeria, and missed European glory by whiskers.

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“Playing under Steven Gerrard was amazing. He was a big fan of me joining because I felt wanted. Like, you know. He’d banter with me. He was just like really good to me.

“Even off the field, if I was out of form or I didn’t see myself on the training ground, he would notice it and he would come and pull me, speak to me in his office. So yeah, he was really good to me.

“In terms of the Nigeria call-up, I’ll never forget the first time I got called up-like it was a crazy feeling.”

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And then Aribo wore the No.10 shirt in his first Eagles’ appearance against Ukraine.

“And I remember the first game, it was against Ukraine and like where everyone sitting in front of a number, and I got given the 10. So even in myself, I’m sitting there thinking, is this my shirt?

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“Like, I didn’t even put my stuff down. I was waiting for someone to actually tell me like, yeah, you’re wearing the 10. So yeah, I was just like, it’s a crazy feeling because you know what the 10 means to Nigeria.

“So many big players have worn it, like even players I’ve looked up to growing up. So, that season was, like honestly, crazy.”

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Voodoo new to me – Waldrum

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In the aftermath of the drama that ensued between Nigeria and Cameroon during the penultimate qualifying fixture for the 2024 Olympic games, Super Falcons coach, Randy Waldrum, says voodoo is strange to him.

There was drama at the start of the second half inside the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja on Monday after a Cameroonian player allegedly attempted to plant ‘voodoo’ inside the Falcons goal post.

Falcons’ goalkeeper, Chiamaka Nnadozie, was in fine form as she stopped every shot in her direction to prevent the Indomitable Lionesses from scoring.

However, in the closing minutes of the game, Cameroon sent Annie Enganemben on as they were about to launch a free kick into the Nigerian box with claims that the player was sent on to touch the net in a bid to give Cameroon a saving grace as they were running out of options, and had to resort to diabolical means.

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In a video, the substitute, alongside another striker, were seen trying to run towards the Nigerian goal in an attempt to touch the net, but Asisat Oshoala took it upon herself to prevent that from happening. The drama led to the player being sent off after she hit Nnadozie in the process.

When asked by our reporter about the attempt by the Cameroonians to use voodoo during the game, Waldrum said, “Yes it is true.”

“I have never seen it before but our players wouldn’t let them in our goal to use it.”

The only goal of the two-legged tie came in the early minutes of the first half, with Esther Okoronkwo tapping home from close range after Jennifer Echegini’s clever footwork on the edge of the box.

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Liverpool Win Carabao Cup Title With Late Heroics Thrilling Against Chelsea

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In a thrilling Carabao Cup final clash at Wembley Stadium, Liverpool emerged victorious with late heroics against Chelsea, clinching the coveted title in dramatic fashiion.

The match, highly anticipated by football fans worldwide, showcased the fierce competition between two Premier League giants. Jurgen Klopp’s youthful Liverpool side faced off against Thomas Tuchel’s formidable Chelsea team in a showdown that promised excitement and tension.

Throughout the game, both teams demonstrated their skill and determination, creating numerous scoring opportunities and thrilling moments for the spectators. However, as the clock ticked down towards the end of regular time, the score remained deadlocked in a tense stalemate.

As the match entered extra time, the intensity on the field only intensified, with each side pushing for a decisive breakthrough. It was Liverpool’s star defender, Virgil van Dijk, who ultimately proved to be the hero of the night. In a heart-stopping moment, van Dijk rose above the Chelsea defense to head home a crucial goal deep into extra time.

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The Wembley Stadium erupted with cheers from Liverpool fans as van Dijk’s late header secured the victory and clinched the Carabao Cup title for Klopp’s side. It was a moment of pure jubilation for the Liverpool players, staff, and supporters, marking a memorable triumph in their footballing journey.

The match’s thrilling conclusion highlighted the unpredictable nature of football and the exhilarating drama that unfolds on the grand stage. Liverpool’s triumph with late heroics against Chelsea will be remembered as a testament to their resilience, determination, and unwavering spirit in pursuit of success.

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Boniface named among Bundesliga’s most skilful stars

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Bayer Leverkusen star Victor Boniface has secured a nomination among the most skilful players in the ongoing 2023/24 Bundesliga campaign so far.

After his move from Union SG last July, the Super Eagles striker wasted no time making an impact under the guidance of manager Xabi Alonso.

Boniface’s initial burst in Germany was nothing short of impressive, netting ten goals in 16 league matches.

However, his promising run hit an abrupt halt due to a groin injury, forcing him to miss the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations held in Ivory Coast.

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Despite his current injury setback, the striker’s noteworthy performances have not gone unnoticed.

The spotlight now shines on a particular display of individual brilliance during Leverkusen’s Bundesliga clash against RB Leipzig at the Bay Arena in August 2023.

In that game, Boniface executed a cunning feint, deceiving his marker into anticipating a right-footed shot, only to cleverly pass the ball with his left foot. Although he didn’t find the net, Leverkusen emerged victorious with a 3-2 scoreline.

Boniface shares the skills spotlight with four other notable players: Andrej Kramaric, Jadon Sancho, Felix Nmecha, and Xavi Simons.

To participate in the voting process, fans can visit the Bundesliga’s official website and select their choice among the nominated players.

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At the time of this report, Jadon Sancho leads the polls with an impressive 75% of the votes. Xavi Simons secures the second position with 17%, while Boniface currently holds 5%. Hoffenheim’s Kramaric and Dortmund’s Nmecha trail behind with 1% and 2% of the votes, respectively.

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