The success of football, in no quandary, lies in the development of young players at the base level and getting them fully prepared for a professional career, getting them developed technically, tactically, mentally and physically.
Most of the greatest footballers retired or playing started from youth level which brought them so much effulgence in the round leather game.
Lateef Omidiji a 14-year Old Nigerian, born in Las Vegas, USA and playing for Feyenoord Rotterdam in the Netherlands, hopes to tow such part to legendary status. The young striker at 14 has become an international effigy and highly watched by scouts across most teams.
In this Exclusive interview, Lateef Omidiji, monickered “Speedy Las Vegas” discusses his career and football ambition with naijafootballplus.com’s Timothy Dehinbo.
NFP: Who exactly is Lateef Omidiji?
Omidiji: “My name is Lateef Omidiji Jr and I was born in Las Vegas, Nevada but based in the Netherlands. My father was born and raised in Lagos and my mother is American from Las Vegas. I started playing at the age of 5 in Las vegas and my decision was influenced by my love for the game at a very young age. I was faster than everyone so I got a thrill out of using my pace to dominate everyone.”
NFP: By joining Feyenoord Rotterdam in April, how has the Varkenoord experience been?
Omidiji: “It’s been a great experience at Feyenoord, as everyone knows Dutch football is centered on technical and tactical skills, so it’s been an amazing education to learn, improve and thrive in the Netherlands and be rated as one of the top youth players in a country that prides itself in producing ‘talents’ for the world. I’m very happy with my progress, but I know there’s so much work to do. Luckily for me, I’ve clicked in time with the U17s, U16s and my team the U14s, and that’s been great because I’ve gotten to test myself against players at different age groups.”
NFP: Do you face any form of intimidation, when playing against older players on the pitch?
Omidiji: “Intimidation? no never that. I’ve always played 2-3 years up since I started playing soccer and I’ve thrived thus far. I am a physical player by nature, love contact, can take it and can dish it and I’m not an ‘Ajebutter’. I’m made of Nigerian parts. I can handle and actually love the physical side of soccer.”
NFP: What’s the feeling like for you, being an highly followed international effigy at age 14?
Omidiji: “It just means hardwork so far has paid off, but that’s so far.. I have ambitions greater than U14, U17, I have ambitions of winning the U17 world cup next year, U20 world cup and senior world cup en route to being the best player in the world. Being known globally at this age to me, means nothing. It’s a long game and I’m fully prepared to put in the work to close the gap between potential and reality. I remain focused on my craft.”
NFP: Do you have plans of playing for Nigeria as an International? Or is it the Netherlands or USA?
Omidiji: “An announcement on that will be coming very soon.”
NFP: How has your parents support been for you so far, trying to combine education with playing football?
Omidiji: “My parents have been immense. From kindergarten till today, education has been in the forefront of everything I do. I’m African, so you know academic prowess is something we don’t take for granted, and their support for my education and football has helped me become the student and player that I am. Family definitely helps ground you, keep your focus, when things are hard, stay even kilt, when things are good, keep your focus.”
NFP: Nigeria Recently just appointed coach Manu Garba as the U17 coach – what are your thoughts?
Omidiji: “Garba is an experienced coach that has won the U17’s before, what more can one ask for, than someone who’s been there and done that? It’s definitely a good thing, heard a lot of good things about him and his results are evidence of the caliber of coach he is.”
NFP: Thanks for your time speaking with us, naijafootballplus.com wishes you a great footballing career
Omidiji: “Thanks so much and thank you to everyone in Nigeria from walks of life who want to see me succeed and have sent me messages of encouragement and support and also to current and former players that have messaged and called I appreciate you all.”