Posted by Nelson Dafe | 22 October 2012 | 6,059 times
Only a couple of years ago, he would trudge home in the infernal Benin City sun from the Arinze Primary School ground after training sessions with his youth football team. He would wear a tired look on his
face, but with hope in his heart that one day the stress of hard work-outs would not be in vain. Braving the many odds facing lots of young grassroots footballers hoping to make it to the big stage, which
included perhaps demurring from family members concerned about the future of one of their own, Ndubuisi Agu believed in his football talent so much. Today that belief is paying off handsomely for the
Currently contracted to one of Europe’s most venerable football clubs, FC Porto of Portugal, Agu reveals that he is living his dream.
“Ever since I arrived here in Portugal I have enjoyed every single moment,” he says.
For a 19-year-old from a modest Nigerian family, having an apartment of your own in one of the world’s most famed cities, being able to speak two international languages (English and Portuguese),and with the clear prospects of developing into being one of Africa’s and world’s best midfielders are the stuff many young kids can only dream about. Agu however puts all of these down to hard work and
level-headedness, traits that he says were instilled by his family.
“I come from a family that was far from rich. But the good values were drummed into my head by my parents right from when I was younger,” he says in an interview with News Express.
Agu is also happy to reveal that racism is not endemic in Portugal, and that he has not encountered any serious racist incidents since his arrival in the Western European country. “Portugal is largely free of
racism. Though there are pockets of incidents here and there, there has not been any major banana-throwing scenes,” he says.
The central midfielder, who has gained valuable training time with members of FC Porto’s senior squad, has been heavily involved in Porto B’s campaign in the lower division of Portuguese football this
season. This is designed to give him some more experience to prepare for the main team’s duties in the near future. Agu tells News Express that he concentrates seriously on the senior side’s training sessions
and matches, while trying to learn from a player who plays in the same central midfield position as he does. His words: “I watch Fernando a lot when we are training at Porto. He plays in my position and I try to see what he does right and learn from it.”
There are certainly many things that this petite midfield grafter does right already. He always possesses a calm presence with the ball, coupled with the all too essential requirements for modern central midfielders – a high technical ability to manage tight spatial situations while given the necessary short and accurate passes. However he is keen to stress that his coaches have been doing a lot to help him better his ball control with his upper body, while his long range passing characteristic is still getting some brushing up.
When he talks about Porto, it is with pride and gratitude about what he is gaining from the team. He says he is very keen to show appreciation to the club by helping them to titles when his time hopefully comes to be a regular in the senior set up, and he also plans to stay for a considerable time with the former European champions. “If I ever leave Porto for a different team in the future, I really hope it would be for a deal that would be satisfactory for the team. I would want to leave on good terms because they have been very good to me,” Agu says.
As Nigeria assembles a new under 21 squad, players like Agu could just be what is necessary to bring the elusive World Youth Championship trophy to the country. He says he is particularly looking forward to
representing Nigeria at that level. Having done Nigeria proud before during the Coca Cola-sponsored Copa Cup Competition in South Africa – where he not only helped the Nigeria youth team to win the
cup, but also emerged best player-it is not hard to argue that this young lad deserves a chance to stake a claim at the under 21 cadre for the country he loves.
*Photo: Agu (extreme left) celebrating a goal with Porto team mates.
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