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‘It’s been tough!’ - Rising star Noah Okafor reflects on journey to becoming FC Basel’s treasure

9:46 PM MYT 07/03/2019
Noah Okafor - Basel
Born in Binningen to a Nigerian father and Swiss mother, the 18-year-old has dazzled through the ranks to become a mainstay at St. Jakob-Park

Noah Okafor admits that doing enough to becoming a treasure at FC Basel has been a ‘tough journey’.

Last week, the 18-year-old winger was rewarded for his progress since gaining promotion to the senior side with an improved three-year deal.

This came only a little over a year after he signed his first professional contract - a two-year deal. With the recent development, he is expected to stay at the St. Jakob-Park outfit till the summer of 2023.

“I feel great and I thank God for this opportunity he has given me,” Okafor told Goal.

“I am a very hardworking player and I know that so far I put in the work; success will surely be the outcome.

“It has been a tough journey but it has been with a lot of new experiences. Playing at this level requires a lot and I have really adapted to the situation so far so good.

“Coming through the youth ranks of FC Basel from age eight, I have always known that moving to the next level has its own challenges. Listening to the coach's instructions and experienced players in the team has made it much easier for me to adapt to this new level.”

After signing his maiden pro contract in January 2018, club’s sporting director Marco Streller admitted that approaches from "many top clubs in Europe" meant they had to tie the precociously talented Okafor to a proper deal.

Over 13 months - which has yielded two goals [the efforts coincidentally against Xamax on different occasions] amid several sparkling displays in 14 league games, predominantly operating as an inverted winger from the left side - and the Basel no. 11 says that interests from the big clubs; Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan and Manchester City among others, Goal understands, have not dried up.

The Swiss-Nigerian suggests it might have, again, forced the hands of the authorities at Basel to commit him on a long-term basis.

“[The approaches] have not changed but I am very happy where I am at the moment," he disclosed.

“I believe it could been [the reason Basel offered a new deal] but it has always been my childhood dream to play for the main team of FC Basel.”

His expectation this season - his first full season at the top level - is to clinch his first senior silverware.

However, a Swiss Super League title triumph with second-placed Basel looks all but possible with runaway league leaders Young Boys gallant atop the log with a 19-point advantage. Basel are also out of Europe, failing in their Europa League expedition, but one route remains open.

Last week, Okafor was on parade in a Swiss Cup quarter-final clash away at Sion, seeing out the gruelling 120-minute as Basel emerged 4-2 winners and progressed to the semifinals of the competition, where they face FC Zurich.

And he - alongside his teammates - is all set to ‘concentrate and work hard’ for that one final punt.



A post shared by Noah Okafor (@noah.arinze) on Feb 25, 2019 at 10:32am PST

“The expectation of every young footballer is to win trophies as well as the objective of a team.

“Currently, we are in the semifinals of the Swiss Cup which means we are closer to the trophy and we need to concentrate and work hard so we can clinch this trophy at the end of the season,” the Switzerland U21 international, of Nigeria descent, concluded.