Lateef Olalekan is one of the players who are currently participating in the ongoing One Big Family football competition at the MOPOL football pitch in Nyanya. He speaks with our correspondent, Taofeek Lawal about how he started playing football among other issues. Excerpts:
What is your name?
My name is Olalekan Lateef and I currently played for Vonsoroh FC, Koroduma in One Man Village here in Abuja or Nasarawa State.
When and how did you get into football?
My late dad, Alhaji Salmon Akangbe was an ardent football fan; so he encouraged all his sons to take into football. He loved football so much and even traveled round the country to watch league games that involved his darling team, Shooting Stars of Ibadan. Most time he took us to watch these games and that is where the interest developed. Football runs in my family. My big brother played for his schools from primary to higher institution so also is the one that followed him. My younger brothers too eat and drink football. I believe football is in our genes (laughs).
Which teams have you played for before Vonsoroh FC?
I will just mention few. I have played for Aston Villa FC inside the University of Ibadan. I have played for Ramblance FC here in Abuja. I have been with Vonsoroh close to five years now and I can say that my game has improved tremendously since then. I have the understanding of the coaching crew and my team mates. I can operate from anywhere on the pitch but I played as a defender. I can play as a full back, a right back and a left back. I am the captain of the team presently and my mates have been fantastic both on and off the pitch.
Who are your role models at the international level that you look up to?
Vincent Kompany of Manchester City is my number one. You will agree with that he is a rock solid defender who will not give you any breathing space when you are playing against him. I’m not surprised that he is the captain of both his club and his country, Belgium. He is a no nonsense player. Besides him, I appreciate defenders like Franco Baresi of Italy, Gary Cahill and John Terry both of Chelsea and England, Sergio Ramos of Real Madrid and Spain. Though I may not see Baresi during his playing days, but what I have read about him is very interesting. The trio of Cahill, Terry and Ramos are my role models any day anytime and I look forward to reaching their level in no distant future. They are rugged, disciplined and cool headed on the pitch. They score crucial goals for their teams at times. These guys are professional to the core.
Do you have the support of your parents in this game?
As I told you earlier, my father was my number one fan. I cannot count the number jerseys, football boots and other things that he bought to encourage my career. My mom too has given her 100 per cent support from day one. If I need anything she gives to me. She has always been there for me. She is my pillar of support, financially and morally.
If you have your way, which club would you like to play for in Nigeria and at the international level?
I hope people will not say I’m being sentimental. I would like to play for Shooting Stars. I love Gombe United, Enyimba of Aba and Rangers FC of Enugu. At the international level, Chelsea is my number one. I love the way they play. Real Madrid, Barcelona and of late Atletico Madrid are teams after my heart.
Who is your favorite player in the Super Eagles and why?
Geoffrey Oboabona is my player anytime. I like his precision on the ball. He is a team player. His combination or partnership with Kenneth Omeruo at the heart of the Eagles defence is nice. I see the two guys in the mould of Uche Okechukwu (Gentle Giant) and Chidi Nwanu or the late Uche Okafor in the 90s. They should keep it up. Although, they have not really gelled in our recent Nations Cup qualifiers against Congo and South Africa, with time they will make us happy again. Let them continue to play for each other.