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‘I cried when my coach told me to quit football and learn trade’

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A member of Nigeria’s Under 23 squad who plies his trade in Europe, Joshua Akpudje, has revealed that his road to success was rough and tough.

Featuring on the BCOS TV Weekend Morning Sports programme Breakfast Sports Show, from his base in Europe via Skype, Akpudje said things were so bad and discouraging at the beginning of his football career that he was totally written off by one of his coaches.

Akpudje, who currently plays for BFC Daugavplis in Latvia, recalls his challenging days at Iyana Oworo in Lagos, saying that he once hawked bottled water on Lagos highways when he was struggling to make headway in football.

“It was tough because apart from my mum, there was no one else to help. So, I tried to get a small business and finally began to sell bottled water in Lagos traffic every evening after school hours.”

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He continues: “In 2015, I was invited to Golden Eaglets camp in Abuja but was not selected in the final list. However, I stayed back in Abuja and lived in an uncompleted building for three months, washing plates in food canteens to feed myself.”

In February 2016, luck smiled on Akpudje as he was taken to Eastern Europe by an agent who came to Nigeria to recruit players for European clubs. But his journey to success suffered setbacks, as he was rejected by clubs in Slovenia, Croatia and Czech Republic. It was in one of these countries that a football coach told him to quit football to learn a trade.

“When the coach made this demoralising statement, I cried like a baby. I called my mum and she comforted me with words of motivation. I returned to Nigeria and thereafter joined MFM FC of Lagos”, Akpudje narrated on SBS Show.

At MFM, he played 28 games as a central defender and scored two goals before jetting out of the country again to Latvia in February 2020.In a twist of fate, Akpudje, the stone once rejected by some builders, has now become the cornerstone in Latvia. But he is not resting on his oars, as Akpudje is planning to move to Belgium, though his ultimate dream is to play in the English Premier League.

“Now, I’m playing for the best side in Latvian League but my next goal is to move to Belgium. My dream club is Manchester United, but I need to work on my lapses before moving to England. I am also looking forward to invitation to the Super Eagles camp.”

Akpudje, who started his football career with Femmark Academy shortly after completing his secondary school education, joined MFM in 2019 before moving to Latvia. He also played for Nigeria’s U 23 football team against Libya some years ago.
•Culled from www.sports247.ng

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In this article:
Joshua Akpudje
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