Wilfred Ndidi's incredible assist from centre-back led him to become a Premier League star

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The Nigeria international almost fell out of the game, but one moment of magic convinced scouts to invite him for a trial in Europe


EXCLUSIVE

Wilfred Ndidi has become an important player for both Leicester City and Nigeria, but he could have ended up not making it in the professional game, if it wasn't for a moment of inspiration during his youth career. 

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The 20-year-old recently completed a £17 million move from Genk to Leicester City in January and he has since gone onto vindicate his decision to stay in football, despite being told by his father that he would be better off studying.

Ndidi, who is currently away with the Nigeria national team, revealed that he was the only one of 500 boys to be invited for a trial at Genk, who sent scouts to watch a Nigerian football tournament. As a central defender, it took an impressive assist, rather than a goal, to earn him his call up to play in Belgian first division. 

"I didn’t score [to impress Genk], I was actually playing in central defence," Ndidi told Goal. "I was told not to play long balls, so I just made a one-two and another one-two and then I gave a pass, made an assist.

"It was important because we were an academy, we played a team from the Nigerian Premier League [and we were only an academy], 3SC Shooting Stars, who were winning 1-0. I gave that pass and it made it 1-1. 

Wilfred Ndidi

"I was the only one selected out of 40 teams, 500 players. I had to go and do trials in Genk after that. Then I did the trials in Genk, After a year, they gave me a contract. 

"It was difficult [coming to Europe] but I stayed with a family who tried to make me feel like I was at home. It was the time of the trial. So when I came home every day I felt like part of the family, it felt like home and made it easier."

Nigeria suffered disappointment by missing out on the African Cup of Nations qualification, but are hoping to rectify it by qualifying for the World Cup using a young squad that includes Ndidi. 

Arsenal's Alex Iwobi and Manchester City's Kelechi Iheanacho are just two more young stars that Nigeria boss Gernot Rohr is looking to, while Ndidi is positive about his inclusion within the Nigeria set up. 

"I always wanted to play for my country. I feel good, I feel so much fun in the national team," Added Ndidi. "I like seeing my friends and I feel good here but I never see myself as a very important player.

"I have always said to myself, anywhere I go, I can be replaced. So I just try to keep doing my very best. Keep focused. [The squad] have a lot in common. There’s a lot of guys around the team who are my ages so communication is easy. 

 

 

"[Iwobi and Kelechi] have lots of strengths and play good football, you know, because of where they play and their experience. They have experience in Arsenal and City which is good for the country. They have a lot of skills and the future is good [for Nigeria]." 

"I don’t think about the World Cup, I just feel we need to take every game as it is. That’s important. Fight for every point that we need, that way we can improve where we stand in the qualifiers and get to the World Cup.

"I have played in the junior World Cup, so I have that feeling about how the World Cup might look. I know the senior World Cup will be much more big. It would be good to feel that."

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