Jide Idris Fatokun is a defensive midfielder for Kwara United, he signed for the Ilorin based club in August 2020, a move he described as much needed in search of a new challenge after three seasons with Sunshine Stars.
He spoke exclusively to OmaSports about the NPFL, his career goals and challenges.
He began his professional career with Osun United in the Nigerian National League before moving to Sunshine Stars. He scored on his NPFL debut for Kwara United, the opening goal in the 2-0 win over Plateau United in Jos on the opening day of the new season.
Jide is a good passer of the ball and an intelligent tackler who models his football after John Obi Mikel, Wilfred Ndidi and Sergio Busquets.
He adapted well to the physicality of the NPFL because he has been playing with men since he was a child; “I’ve been playing with men since I was a child so my small body frame doesn’t stop me from doing well.” he said.
His biggest challenge is coping with the pressure of losing a match, especially home games: “It takes time before I get over losing. I am a player who always wants to win.” he said.
The toughest opponent he has faced is Katsina United’s Destiny Ashadi who he described as too creative; “He’s everywhere and before you think of marking him he has either released the ball or ghost past you.” he added.
On improving the NPFL, he said: “The first thing is to improve on the welfare of the players. The Nigerian league today still has quite a bad attitude towards players welfare. The refereeing has improved over time and the fans conduct in stadiums has also improved.”
He named Enugu as his favourite city he has played in, describing the Coal City as having a very good atmosphere with no trouble and very good fans.
Just like every footballer, Jide aspires to play in Europe and for the Super Eagles. His closest opportunities to both were denied by different clubs he represented at those times.
He missed out on making the Golden Eaglets squad in 2015 because his grassroot club Gray FC failed to release him on time for the national team camp.
He had a trial at Norwegian first division club Stabæk in 2019, again turning up late after Sunshine Stars failed to permit him to travel on time due to upcoming important games.
“I had to run away from the club hotel. We had two away matches against Rangers and Enyimba, so I sneaked out and left Nigeria before the matches. I was late before I got there but I thank God, it was a nice experience for me, I trained with them and played friendly matches.” the midfield trojan added.
The biggest influence on his football career are his grassroots coach, Akin Oyedunmola, the manager of Gray FC, Kabiru Adekunle and ex-international Duke Udi who gave him his NPFL debut with Sunshine Stars.