Nigeria international, Wilfried Ndidi has opened up about his life as a youngster in the Nigerian city of Lagos.
The Leicester City midfielder helped his mother sell fruits and food, in order to sustain his household before he became a professional footballer.
Ndidi moved to Europe in 2015, where he joined Belgian side, Genk, and he has joined former English champions Leicester in 2017.
“Though we had some ups and downs and trying to meet up with some bills, I was always there for my mum,” said Ndidi on Out of Home Podcast.
“My mum was a food vendor and I supported her by hawking. I don’t regret that because growing up was really tough because it was all about survival. There were no fruits that I didn’t sell.
“I was the market boy and I was known mostly for selling groundnuts because it comes out every season. Just name them – I sold peppers, tomatoes and avocado. We basically sold fruits that came with different seasons. All these were done to survive in the military zone and outside.”
The 23-year-old revealed that he used to be punished for playing football as a youngster by his father.
“It was difficult because my dad wanted me to go to school, but there was no money. What made it easier for me was when he was transferred out of Lagos,” he continued.
“I had the freedom because when he was around, if I go out to train and he gets home before me, I have to explain where I was coming from. When I tell him I went to play football, I get whooped.
“There was a time I got whooped with a cow skin ‘Koboko’ and it was like a tattoo on my body. I couldn’t wear my shirt because when I put my clothes on, it becomes sticky and it’s painful. It was a military kind of discipline.”
Ndidi is now earning a lot of money at Leicester, who purchased him from Genk in a deal worth £17 million.
“Growing up, I didn’t get a chance to play more with my peers because they were training in the evenings while the bigger guys were training in the morning. I was training with the bigger guys, but just for 10 minutes because I was too small,” he added.
“They always put me in when everyone was tired and also for them to be able to give me the training bibs to wash and bring the next day.
“My mum kept complaining because I didn’t have the time to wash them because I had to go hawk for her, but before I return, she would have washed them. That was the routine until I left my mum for Nath Boys.”