One of the Nigerian silver medallists at the FIFA under 17 world cup in 2009 get to tell his story

The Road to stardom and success is a tale that never ends. Embedded in the tale is always is the very beginning; the period everything get to start, it’s just like the morning dawn, that set out very early. Afterwards, the middle begins to pop in; it is like the sun at Noon, that keeps blinking not certain if it should rise or set. This period can be affiliated with the ugly reality of life, when we are at the period of make or break.

As the noon gradually collapse into the evening, we then begin to see the outcome of the days’ hard work, this is when we distinguish the boys from the men, it is when we get to know those that gallantly stood firm when everything looked bleak. As the night then wades in, we then see the boys going to bed, the boys can be compared to those that gave up just when it was about time for them to excel. The actual men never sleep because they are awake all night, preparing for the next day. That is why the road is always busy, the road never sleeps, so why should we sleep?

Most successful footballers you see today have gone through their wrong patches. There is always the turbulent period, when it is going to look as if the mission is never going to be accomplished. The “boys”, tend to fall asleep as they get exhausted just when it is their time to excel, but the real men, the real footballers, never quit nor surrender. Rather they continue to kick and juggle the ball, till their very last breathe, even after retirement.

One of the Nigerian medallists, at the under 17 world cup in Nigeria in 2009, get to tell his enthusiastic story, as he climbed the ladder of success from his home town, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun state in Nigeria, to Europe; Spain, Slovakia and Austria. He is a definition of commitment, hard work, perseverance and Grace.

Yusuf Olaitan Otubanjo, a Nigerian footballer who started from the bottom never had it rosy. He is a 26 year old tall lanky striker that currently plays for Lask linz, in Austria, Vienna.

He started playing football at a tender age for fun, and never thought it was going to be a passion or profession for him, not until he got to secondary school. It was during his time at Ijebu-Ode Grammar school, in Ogun state, that he realised that he had a genuine passion for football. He said, “I was lucky to be the sport prefect back then in school and the school regular sport activities, enhanced my interest in football.”

Having played in his secondary school, and was the captain of the school team that participated in so many tournaments, he bowed out in style by winning one of the most prestigious tournament participated by different secondary schools. With this feat, he was able to channel his passion more directly towards football, as he began to see football more as a profession. His inclusion in the draft for the Nigerian under 17 team made him happy, but he became happier, when he made the final list for the tournament in 2009. It was this tournament that brought him into the limelight, although he didn’t get enough chance to show case his talent in the tournament, as he wasn’t a regular starter.

According to him, his defining moment was when he got to sign for Atletico Madrid in Spain in 2010, but he didn’t get to join the team till 2011. “It was an unbelievable moment, even though you don’t know what you going to face but hearing the name Atletico Madrid is like a dream come true.” With so much expected of him at Atletico Madrid, he didn’t get to fulfil his dreams, for so many reasons bothering on g regular play time and this prompted him to move to Austria.

In Austria, he won his first medal with a team playing in the Regionaliga, the Austrian third tier. The team won the Austrian cup and this afforded them the chance of playing in the Europa league play offs. Shortly after, he joined another team, Blau-Web Linz in the third tier and they secured promotion to the second tier, having won the league.

In pursuit of further success, he moved to Zilina in the Slovakia league and with his effort combined with team work, they won the league in 2016. He said his experience playing in Slovakia was memorable as he got the opportunity to play often and he being part of the team that won the league is a great achievement.

However, it didn’t take long enough as he got to move on again, being a man of adventure. This prompted him to move to Lask Linz in Austria first division. “Austria is a home for me and I am enjoying my time here,” he said. He expressed that he is comfortable with his situation with his current club and he is hoping to see out his three-year contract with the club that is to expire in 2021. “In Nigeria, as the politician do say, one good term deserves another, and in football, one good season can bring so many fortunes and there is nothing to rush.”

To sum up his philosophy as regards the rule of life, he said, “Put your money where your mouth is.” He was of the view that in football if you don’t train every day, you don’t get the physical strength you need.  In an overview of his perception, he said, “When you are in training you have to give your 100 percent and train to be good, because when your chance comes, you have to take it.”