Italian-born Super Eagles defender Calin Bassey has revealed why he almost quit football seven ago as he reflects on his journey so far in this beautiful game.
The 22-year-old Nigeria international is a product of Leicester City’s youth system but he failed to make a single appearance for Brenda Rodger’s side at King Power before moving to Scottish Premier League club Rangers on a free transfer in July 2020.
Bassey was key figure for Rangers after having an impressive 2021-22 season by helping them to reach last campaign’s UEFA Europa League final which they lost on penalties to Eintracht Frankfurt and lift Scottish Cup for Light Blues.
Super Eagles new boy made last season’s UEFA Europa League Team of the Year and Scottish Premiership Team of the Year.
Bassey’s form last season saw linked him up with Ajax last month for a club-record fee of around £20 million making him the most expensive Nigerian defender in history.
The versatile defender reflected on his journey on he almost quit football as clubless teenager told Voetbal International via Ajax Show Time: “I remember well, I was fifteen,” Bassey begins his story in the football medium.
“It was summer and I didn’t have a professional club. During those years in London I played for various amateur teams and played a lot of street football.
“For me football was everything. My mother insisted that I should do my best in school, that was my future. I did, I followed all the lessons with interest, but once I got out of school I grabbed the ball and I was on my way.’
“I had already resigned myself to the fact that that opportunity would never come again. I decided to focus even more on school and to stop playing football at a club, until that summer suddenly a message came from Leicester City that they had seen me play and they wanted to give me a chance.
“That took a radical turn. Finally my dream of becoming a professional football player came closer.’
“I had to make that sacrifice, because this was what I wanted so badly. Playing football in a professional environment, getting the opportunity that so many talents want in London.
“Everything had to give way to succeed, and that included missing my friends and family in London.’
Bassey will quickly forget his debut for Ajax after he was sent off for a horror tackle on Moroccan midfielder Ismael Saibari in the 78th minute just 16 minutes after coming it 5-3 defeat to PSV during the Dutch Super Cup clash at the Johan Cruyff Arena.
The Nigerian strongman will miss the opening match against Fortuna Sittard on Saturday as well as the home match against Groningen on August 14 after he was suspended for matches.