Young Bloods Dominating Sport American football to soccer
Given the right tools you can survive anywhere and that has been the truth for Nigerians who have made their marks in different sectors of the society. Casting our light on the sports industry, we have Nigerians native and in diaspora who have set their footprints in the sand of time and have helped pave the way for other Nigerian sportsmen to live their truth globally.
Lagos-born Iwobi is a professional footballer who plays as a winger and a striker for Arsenal and the Nigerian national team. He moved to England when he was four years old and joined the Arsenal junior team when he was in primary school. Growing in the club, the 21-year-old signed a long-term contract with Arsenal in October 2015. On the international scene, he made seven appearances for England’s under-16s, three for the under-17s and one at under-18 level. He made his debut for the Nigerian senior team in 2015 during the Democratic Republic of Congo friendly in Vise, Belgium. Highly rated by his club manager Arsene Wenger with a family history of football being the nephew of ex-footballer Jay-Jay Okocha, Iwobi has made a name for himself as one to watch out for since he came out guns blazing with two goals in his first two Premier League starts in wins against Everton and Watford respectively.
Betiku, who immigrated to the United States from Nigeria in 2013 admits to not really caring about football initially as he came to the US to become a breadwinner for his family. In the four years since his arrival, the 20-year-old has made a remarkable name for himself as a 5-star college football recruit which is the highest position to be bestowed to a college recruit. His success thus far has been credited to his natural and raw ability to play the game. Having only played organised football for two years, he rose to become one of the nation’s treasured recruits from Serra High School to his current position as an online linebacker (OLB) for University of Southern California. Unlike most players who start out with an obvious interest for the game, he has made every day on the field count.
27-year-old Acho is a football linebacker who is currently a free agent of the National Football League (NFL). In college, he played in 48 games during his four year career at Texas, including 26 starts. He won the 2010 Arthur Ashe Award and was named to the 2011 AFCA Good Works Team and was a three-time first-team Academic All-Big 12 selection. In 2011, he graduated with a degree in sports management. He was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft and went on to play for the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants in 2013 and was signed back to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2014 to 2015. Released by the Eagles in 2015, he’s been in the NFL as a free agent.
Popularly known as “The Chief”, Aminu is a professional basketball player who plays forward for the Portland Trail Blazers of the National Basketball Association (NBA) as well as player for the Nigerian national basketball team. Aminu was selected by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2010 NBA draft with the eighth overall pick, he went on to play for New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans from 2011-2014, Dallas Mavericks from 2014 to 2015 and is currently with the Portland Trail Blazers, which he has a four-year contract with. In 2015, Aminu with the D’Tigers of Nigeria won the 2015 FIBA Africa Championship (AfroBasket) in Tunisia by defeating Angola 74–65, he was also named in the All-Star Five of the 2015 Afrobasket. Starting off the year to a great start, he came back from a sore back to scoring a season-high 26 points in a 120-111 loss to the Boston Celtics.
21-year-old Iheanacho is a Nigerian professional footballer who plays for Premier League club Manchester City and the Nigerian national team. His performance during the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup put him on the interest list for European Leagues like Arsenal. In 2012, he signed a pre-contract agreement with Manchester City stating his intent to formally sign for City on his 18th birthday in October 2014. Later that year, he was named the the Most Promising Talent of the Year for 2013 at the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Awards. Currently playing with Manchester City, he ended the 2015–16 season with eight Premier League goals and had the best goals-per-minute ratio of any player averaging, a goal every 93.9 minutes.