In a lengthy interview with Sportlens360 on Wednesday, Adeyinka Najeem sat down to talk about his incredible development at MFM FC since joining in 2019 season, when Fidelis Ilechukwu was manager.
Since he joined MFM FC, Najeem’s career has taken off quickly and he’s become a regular starter at right back for the Olukoya boys. Impressively, he’s already recorded over 50 appearances, 5 goals and 9 assists for MFM FC in the league.
MEETING ILECHUKWU AND JUMP-STARTING HIS MFM FC CAREER
Najeem credits Fidelis Ilechukwu with being a massively influential part of his growth as a player and recalled the first time he played under him in 2019.
“We played Enyimba FC in the first game of the season and we lost 2-0 but I took no part in that game. The second league game of the season was against Kwara United in Lagos and Ilechukwu gave me a chance to prove myself by including me in the starting XI and I didn’t disappoint him. I put up an impressive performance that day at Kwara United.
In his first season with MFM FC under Ilechukwu, Najeem admitted that Ilechukwu helped him visualize spatial awareness, anticipate where his teammates would be, and work on his first touch:
“There are many things Ilechukwu did for me, but he showed me completely new spaces in the field. I improved a lot. He cares about your first touch a lot and that you know what to do even before you get the ball. You have to know where your team-mates are. He was like a guardian.
Najeem also revealed what has made him stay positive over the years.
“The things that made me stay positive? I trained longer and harder. It’s the preparation that boosts my confidence every time. Maybe it’s good to learn so much at a young age but you don’t want to suffer too long.
SHAKING OFF THE COMPARISONS WITH STANLEY OKOROM
Stanley Okorom played for 4 seasons with MFM FC before joining Enyimba FC and his replacement was going to be huge ask.
Najeem’s natural ability to get forward from right back have drawn many comparisons to Stanley Okorom, but he’s been quick to play them down. Najeem wants to be his own type of player, free from the burden of too many expectations.
“I always wanted to be me and not a Okorom clone. Of course Okorom was a great player – even when he had a bad game he was still better than the others. There’s a higher consistency in his performances and you want to match that. But you want to play as your own person. I just want to be Najeem Adeyinka.
ASPIRATIONS AS A YOUNG PLAYER
“I want to be able to make a name for myself so that I can live up to my aspirations. I want to play in Europe at a very young age like this and I know that my dreams will come true soon”. Najeem told Sportlens360.
Najeem Adeyinka has scored 3 goals and made three assists this season for MFM FC.