Since the days of the legendary Rashidi Yekini, the Super Eagles of Nigeria have struggled to replace the goal poacher who was very skilled in the art of putting the ball in the back of the net. Julius Aghahowa, Yakubu Aiyegbeni, and Obafemi Martins have over time contributed their quota to the national team are are among the top scorers for the Super Eagles, Lateef hopes to emulate aims to be the addition to the list.
Who is Lateef Omidiji
Lateef Omidiji was born in the United States of America on September 14, 2003, and even though he had the opportunity to play for his country of birth, his dream and desire is to wear the green and white of Nigeria like his elder sister Sophia.
Currently, with the U-15 side of Eredivisie outfit Feyenoord, Lateef is highly rated in Europe and already has a sponsorship deal with international sportswear giants, Nike, as he participated in the official launch of the Super Eagles jerseys to the 2018 FIFA World Cup which caused massive reactions on social media.
In an exclusive interview with Pulse Sports, Lateef reveals that it was until when he played in Keele Cup he decided to be a professional footballer. He says, "I've been playing organized football since I was 5 years old in Las Vegas but didn't think of playing professionally until I played at the Keele Cup in England when I was 10 and was approached by some of the top clubs there to join their academy. "
Love for Nigeria
Born and raised in the U.S, Lateef is proud to have a dual nationality but reveals that the reason he chose Nigeria was down to his personal affection for the country and also the effort form the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) which finally convinced him.
He says, "My father was born and raised in Lagos, I've been coming to Lagos every summer since I was a kid and I love Nigeria. I was born and raised in the States, my mom is American and I'm proud to be American as well.
"I represented U.S at U14s and have interest from us soccer, but I also have interest from my Nigeria. The folks at the NFF have done a lot to show that they are committed to youth football and created a new structure for the future of Nigerian football so I definitely owe it to myself to play for Nigeria. "
Lateef is still very young and finding himself as a professional footballer but can play on either wing in the forward position and also centrally.
He aims to start up his way through the ladder from the Future Eagles, to the Golden Eaglets, Flying Eagles and then the Super Eagles.
He is a huge fan of Brazilian Ronaldo and is fashioning his game similar to football greats such as Diego Costa and Luis Suarez, a combination of power and technique.
His Nigerian idols are the legendary Nwankwo Kanu and Super Eagles vice-captain Ogenyi Onazi whom he revealed encourages him to continue being hardworking as he aims to be the next superstar.
"Ogenyi Onazi - one of our best midfielders and an all around great person who has been encouraging to me and I hope one day I can encourage a young player the way he encourages me. Another person I admire is Kanu- not just for what he's accomplished on the pitch but because he constantly encourages me- for that I'm grateful." Time will tell what Lateef will bring to the Super Eagles, but a humble and focused kid is intent on making bringing more glory to the national team.
Many Nigerians are heartbroken by the Super Eagles exit from the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Lateef, however, is looking towards a bright future for the national team he hopes to be an integral part of.