The Super Eagles of Nigeria will fly out in Cameroon in a bid to secure a fourth Africa Cup of Nations crown, and vice-captain William Troost-Ekong will be a vital part of the team.
The 28-year-old started his youth career at Tottenham, cleaning the boots of superstars like William Gallas and Ledley King.
He then left England for Groningen in 2013. Afterwards, he played for Dordrecht, Genk, Haugesund, Bursaspor and Udinese before moving to Watford in the summer of 2020.
Born in the Netherlands, Troost-Ekong snubbed the Oranje to play for his fatherland. And so far, it has not been a wrong decision for the Watford defender.
He has established himself as a mainstay in the Nigerian defence, forming a solid partnership with Leon Balogun, which earned the duo the nickname “Oyinbo wall.”
He has put up solid performances for Nigeria, of which most memorable were his displays in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
With him in defence, the Super Eagles conceded just three goals in a group that had African heavyweights Algeria, Cameroon and Zambia.
He also scored the crucial goal that secured a semifinal spot for Nigeria at the 2019 Nations Cup.
He has impressed on the white and green jersey that even retired Super Eagles defender Taribo West, who was a mainstay in the Nigerian defence in his playing days, acknowledged Troost-Ekong’s ability.
“Ekong has the abilities of a natural leader due to his passion and commitment,” Taribo said.
The Ex-Super Eagles star is not the only one that has been impressed by Troost-Ekong’s abilities. While at Udinese, the sports director Pierpaolo Marino applauded his qualities on and off the pitch.
“William is important for us because he is a player of great value and charisma for the locker room,” Marino said
Since making his debut for Nigeria under late coach Stephen Keshi in June 2015, Troost-Ekong has made 58 appearances for Nigeria, albeit six of those were at the 2016 Brazil Olympics, where he won bronze.
The 28-year-old is the third most capped player in the Super Eagles squad, and he will look to claim his first international trophy at the AFCON.