Super Eagles defender Leon Balogun has revealed that he started
the game as a striker and further hinted that Arsenal legend Thierry Henry was his favourite player, Completesports.com reports.
Balogun, 30, linked up with Premier League side Brighton and Hove
Albion on a free contract from German Bundesliga outfit FsV Mainz
in the summer.
The centre-back scored a classy goal in a league clash against Crystal Palace in December to prove his attacking skill to the club faithfuls.
Balogun also speaks glowingly about how Henry inspired him while working his way into the game.
“Thierry Henry is my all-time favourite player. I started as a striker and I’ve always admired offensive players more, because it’s just beautiful to watch them,” Balogun told Brighton’s
“If you’re a defender, of course you have your role-model defensive players, but Thierry Henry was the first player that I
can remember who played with style.
“He showed class on the pitch, but almost arrogance. The way he
was moving so elegantly over the field, strong and fast, he just had style in the way he was scoring goals.
“That was something that caught my eye. I loved the way he put the ball into the back of the net — and his celebrations were great as well. For me, he was just pure class.”
Another player that has Balogun’s full respect is Barcelona’s all-time leading goalscorer, a man he faced at last summer’s FIFA World Cup in Russia, when Nigeria were agonisingly knocked out in the group stages.
“Lionel Messi is a magician and the best player in the world. I shouldn’t need to explain why — watch him and you’ll know why.
Put his name in YouTube and you will see,” Balogun added.
“You can’t stop him alone, it takes teamwork. You have to anticipate what he’s going to do and not fall for his moves. But even if you anticipate, you have to be so quick because of his
“There are situations where defenders have stopped him, but you can’t completely take him out of the game, it’s impossible. It’s the same with [Eden] Hazard — he gets the ball and decides what’s going to happen.
“In ten one-v-one situations, Messi is probably going to win at least eight of them. We’ve seen situations where he dribbles past five players in the space of maybe three or four square feet.
“We didn’t speak much about Messi before the Argentina game, because everyone knew what he was capable of doing. We just did everything we could to stop him once we got on the field.”
By Adeboye Amosu