Stop Calling Young Players Next Messi, Okocha or Yekini - Adepoju
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Stop Calling Young Players Next Messi, Okocha or Yekini – Adepoju

Former Super Eagles midfielder Mutiu Adepoju says calling young players next Lionel Messi or Austine Jay Jay Okocha put them under too much pressure.

Adepoju stated that the local media and fans must desist from the act which according to him is detrimental to the players growth.

“I believe calling young players in the youth teams as next Messi or Jay-Jay Okocha is unfair and unnecessary,” Adepoju told BBC Sport Africa.

“Indulging in this comparison is setting them up for failure because the weight of expectations will definitely affect these players mentally.

“It’s the main reason some players refused to work hard and be themselves because they easily get carried away by what the press was writing about them.”

He says that he has seen plenty of younger talent that has not made the step-up to senior level over the last ten years.

“We’ve seen in the past decade that we have talented players all over the field who can make our team tick again,” he explained.

“Nigeria continue to dominate the youth events and there are positive signs of better days to come.

“We just need to nurture these players properly and do away with the hype and noise.

“But if these players are allowed to play their own game and shine, they can be a success both at club and national team level.

“Victor Agali was widely regarded as the next Rashidi Yekini, but he fought extra hard to establish himself and sometimes people expected too much from him.

“He is an example of someone who saw the burden of that label yet worked hard to establish his own name.”


Ajike is one of Nigeria's top Sportscasters with over 15 years of experience in writing and talking Sports.

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