By: Oma Akatugba
German-born Nigerian defender, Leon Aderemi Balogun has become the darling of Nigerian football fans. Because of his dedication and commitment as well as countless stellar performances he has recorded, while in action for the Super Eagles of Nigeria, the country of his father. Leon Balogun was born in Germany to a German/Italian mother and was raised very German. But started following the Super Eagles of Nigeria as a teenager and always played video games, using the Super Eagles as his team. The 29-year-old centre defender, who just signed to play for Brighton & Hove Albion in the English Premier League from next season, revealed to omasports, how his Nigerian father helped him to discover his passion for watching football, even though, he Leon always liked playing football.
“He was the one who made me watch football because when I was 4 or 5 he always loved Bayern and I hated to watch football, because to me, it was so boring. I always liked to play, but I hated to watch. So he was the one. He would say no son, watch. bring me my beer and let us watch together (laughs).”
Balogun, who grew up in the German capital of Berlin visited Nigeria for the first time in his life when he was invited by late Stephen Keshi for a friendly match on 25 March 2015 against Uganda in Kaduna Nigeria.
Playing for Nigeria and helping the Super Eagles qualify for Rusia 2018 FIFA World cup is a dream come true for the former Mainz 05 defender. However, it was not one of the things his father told him while growing up as a child.
“He said to me, everything is possible, just work for your dreams, just as he worked for his dreams when he left Nigeria and came to Germany but he always said. Just be patient, do your thing, and you are a bit lucky, your dreams could come true, but we never spoke specifically about the Nigerian national team.” Balogun told omasports in an exclusive interview