Former European champions, AFC Ajax, have produced several world-class players, but it was not a route one of Nigerian stars was willing to take
Super Eagles defender, Semi Ajayi is the man of the moment following his goal against Liverpool, but the 27-year-old could have played for Ajax instead of West Brom.
Ajayi began his career with Charlton and spent some time on loan at Dartford before signing for Arsenal in July 2013.
The former Rotherham defender claimed his time with the Gunners was a real eye-opener for him, saying he learnt a lot from Arsene Wenger and Per Mertesacker.
“It was someone I’d only seen on TV up until that point,” Ajayi speaking about Wenger to BBC.
“Just being able to pick his brains, learn from him, listen to him, study the information he was giving me in training was amazing. It brought my game on a lot.
While he learnt a lot from the French gaffer, Ajayi never got to play for Arsenal’s first team and was released in 2015.
The Nigerian international said he had trials with Ajax after being released by the Gunners and could have signed for the four-time European champions.
“You can see why they (Ajax) produce so many players when you enter their facilities and see how they do things,” Ajayi said.
“They were interested. They wanted a young, athletic centre-back to groom for the first team and I fitted their criteria, so they invited me for a trial.
However, Ajayi revealed he did not sign because the Dutch club wanted him to start from the U-23s, but he was looking for first-team football.
“It went really well but I was looking for first-team football and the route that they wanted me to go would have been to initially play for the B team and then maybe work my way up into the first team.
“I just thought if I was going to leave home and then move all the way over there it would be for first-team only,” he concluded.
Ajayi is not only enjoying first-team football right now but also playing in the English top-flight. The Super Eagles star has made 14 appearances for the Baggies in the Premier League this season.