Nigerian international Wilfred Ndidi has explained how it was tough and challenging for him to realize his dream of becoming a professional footballer.
It all began at home with his family, helping his mother to get the basic need by hawking fruits of all kinds.
Since his father was a soldier, Ndidi had to go an extra mile of playing the father’s role when he was away fighting.
“Though we had some ups and downs and trying to meet some bills, I was always there for my mum,” Ndidi told Outofhome.
“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 now 23-year has also explained how at some point his father hit him really hard for not taking his education seriously and choosing football.
“It was difficult because my dad wanted me to go to school but there was no money,” Ndidi recalls.
“What made it easier for me was that when he was transferred out of Lagos. 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.”
The midfielder did not manage to play with his age mates and even when playing with the older players, he got limited time, a favour of washing the bibs.
“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 continued.
“They always put me in when everyone is 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.
Ndidi joined Genk in 2015 and made 61 appearances before joining English Premier League side Leicester City in 2017.