Having played for a plethora of clubs in Germany and England, Nigerian international Leon Aderemi Balogun is finally drawing close to a first league trophy of his career in the Scottish Premiership
54-time champions Rangers have not won the league title since 2011, but their first title triumph in a decade could just arrive in Leon Balogun’s first season with the Light Blues.
Steven Gerrard’s side opened an astonishing 19 points gap over Celtic on Saturday with a 1-0 victory over the reigning champions at the Ibrox Stadium.
Rangers won the first tie against Celtic 2-0 earlier in the season to complete a league double over their fierce rivals while keeping a clean sheet in both games.
A stingingly mean defence has been the foundation of Rangers’ title challenge this term, with Steven Gerrard’s men not conceding a goal in 18 of their 22 league games played so far.
Super Eagles defender Balogun has been crucial in that incredible run, with the former Mainz star notching his 13th league appearance against Celtic.
Balogun has been magnificent for the Light Blues since joining in July, and he produced another outstanding performance to help his Rangers team over the line in Saturday afternoon’s Old Firm match at Ibrox.
The Nigerian defender was particularly pleased to have tasted victory in his first-ever clash against Celtic.
“It’s a great win,” Balogun told RangersTV afterwards. “It wasn’t easy – we struggled in the first-half and got lucky a little bit, though we worked hard to get that luck in the first-half.
“But then it was a good comeback in the second half, and we were much better in the second half.
“Then, to obviously score and bring it over the line is an amazing feeling. It is my first Old Firm personally, and while the fans were missing, I think we will all be really united even though we cannot celebrate together.”
Those Rangers fans have not celebrated a league title triumph in ten years, but that story could change later this summer.
Despite Celtic having three games in hand against Rangers, the league leaders are still massive favourites to clinch their 55th title at the end of the season.
It will also be a huge landmark moment for Balogun, who has never lifted a major trophy throughout his career.
The 32-year-old featured in the Bundesliga for the likes of Werder Bremen, Hamburg, and Mainz, as well as in the English Premier League for Brighton Hove and Albion.
These are clubs never in the running for glory in their respective championships. However, all that could change with the Gers in the coming months, and Balogun has urged his teammates and everyone at the club not to get complacent as the side approach the business end of the campaign.
The former Wigan defender said: “I am sure the staff are already working on solutions for the games that are to come as there is no need now to get complacent or carried away.
“We just need to continue to work hard as we are just a bit more than halfway through.
“But we have to repeat what we have done so far.”
There are still 16 games to be played and 48 points to fight for in the 2020-2021 season of the Scottish Premiership.
And if Rangers display as much hunger, character, and resilience as they have shown up till the New Year, they are primed to become Scotland champions.
And no one would be happier or more deserving than the Light Blues’ Nigerian defender, who has been just as excellent as any other Ger.