Israel based goal keeper, Adebayo Adeleye who is currently standing between the sticks for Hapoel Katamon F.C of Israel has expressed his intention of following the legacy laid down by legendary Vincent Enyeama who remains an Idol before soccer followers across the globe. Adebayo in an interview with The Sun Sports on Saturday further hinted on his availability to feature for the Super Eagles in the nearest future, his perception on coach Gernot Rohr tutored team, his views on the new AFCON date and the implication regarding Nigeria’s performance in the forthcoming AFCON 2021 in Cameroon, as well as the challenges he faced before jetting out to Europe.
The 19-year old goal tender who once held the number one spot for the Under 17 national team, further revealed that he ready for duty when the opportunity pops up.
Tell us little about yourself.
I am Adebayo Adeleye, I was born 19 years ago in Osun State. I was born into a family of five and incidenrally the only male child in my family. My growing up was quite difficult.
I started my career at a very tender age having played grassroots football around Alimosho Local government area of Lagos State. My struggle built me to big challenges which saw me representing Nigeria at the Under 17 level in 2017, but it was unfortunate we didn’t qualify for the tournament but I am glad I excelled.
Despite failing to qualify for the 2017 U17 FIFA World Cup in England, why did you travel out?
Like I said earlier, hard work and prayers kept me going. I travelled abroad after my country failed me. It all happened in 2018. I came to Abuja to join the U20 national team after we failed to qualify for the U17 tournament. On getting to Abuja, I wasn’t given the chance to join them in camp so I hung around because I had no money on me. Luckily for me, I was opportune to witness the FIFA goal project which was hosted in same city. The scout who came from Europe discovered my talent and then decided to take me to Israel. My success story was a very amazing one and I thank God for making my name ring bells in the League.
Why do you think the door was shut against you in the U-20 Camp?
It’s obvious. Truth is that in Nigeria, one has to be very rich or highly connected before making a team. I am just a humble boy from a poor background. I think that was the reason why I failed to make the team.
How come the foreign scout picked interest in you among thousands of goal keepers at the FIFA goal project screening?
I think it was because I met all their requirements. The scouts called me and demanded I should give him my details. I told him I once stood between the sticks for the Nigeria U17 national team that failed to qualify for the 2017 FIFA World Cup. The scout was glad I already have such enviable record. It was there he picked interest in me and I thank God for where I am today.
Statistics show you have recorded nine clean sheets in your last eighteen games in Israel, what’s the secret behind this?
Sincerely speaking, I don’t know why I am highly favoured by God. It’s not as if am the best, am also struggling to become a better goal stopper but I think hard work remains the key to my success. My dream is to join a bigger team in the nearest future. I don’t mind if it’s in England or Italy where I can draw more attention.
Vincent Enyeama made waves in the Israeli league, are you eyeing his record?
Why not? Everyone here in Israel still see him as an Idol. His record remains an enviable both at club and national team levels. I am currently following his footstep. I wish to be like him. Austin Ejide is still here in Israel and I am still learning from him, we all train with good facilities. The league is improving and everyone here is happy.
In what areas do you think Gernot Rohr’s Super Eagles is lagging behind?
For now we have a perfect team which can match any team in the world. I mean looking at the way the boys dazzled against a big team like Brazil. No one believed we are as good as that. I am also glad we have a coach who believes in youngsters. The likes of Victor Osimhen, Samuel Chukwueze, Joe Aribo, Wilfred Ndidi and a host of others are all doing well.
All NFF need do is to keep organising such world class friendly matches for the team. It will help build the team’s confidence ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Moreover, I see them picking the qualification ticket for the forthcoming AFCON.
Do you think the change in date for the 2021 AFCON in Cameroon will affect the Super Eagles preparations?
Yes it will. I am aware the date has been changed back to January. Our top players may get tired at the biannual CAF tournament especially those playing in the English Premier League. Aside that, I pray their teams release them in good time. Most foreign coach belief the tournament is too hard. They believe hard tackles and physical challenges remains the pattern of Africa football. But on the other hand, I see the present Eagles excelling at the tournament and I pray when the time comes, they storm the camp with the fitness imposed on them from their various clubs.
Do you feel you deserve a chance from Coach Gernot Rohr?
Sure! Every goalkeeper wishes to represent his father land. I will welcome any invitation from Nigeria. I think I have to brace up more so as to keep myself fit when invitation comes from the Nigeria Football Federation. I see myself gaining a chance because I believe in the prospect of Gernot Rohr who love giving young talents a chance.
Francis Uzoho is currently nursing an injury in Cyprus, any advice or prayer for him?
I have always been his fan. I wish him quick recovering. His base in Europe is not far from mine and I am sure my prayers will surely follow him. I’m advising him to keep improving and one day I see us getting to where we all desire.