Football’s role as a unique and important connective tissue that binds people together is well known, but it can also sometimes make foes of good friends
Super Eagles defender William Troost-Ekong has opened up on the role his football dreams played in causing friction and eventually separating his parents.
Born to a Nigerian father and a Dutch mother in Haarlem, Netherlands, Troost-Ekong developed a taste for football at a tender age.
His father, though, saw a university education as the surest way to avoid a life of lack and poverty. And the elder Ekong sent his young son, aged 12, to a boarding school in England to be disciplined for a higher institution.
Three years later, though, Troost-Ekong returned home, not with university admission papers but documents to gain admission into a football academy in England.
Naturally, his father refused to sign the contract, but his mother signed it for him just before the opportunity slipped. It was a decision that would lead to the separation of the Ekongs.
“He (Ekong’s father) did not want me to play football,” Troost-Ekong said, as per The Nation.
“He felt I should go to university, but I wanted football.
“I’m still very grateful to her (the mother) for that. It caused considerable friction between my parents. Later, they divorced.”
Leaving schooling for football also affected Ekong’s relationship with his father. And it took a decade for father and son to make peace finally.
“For a long time, we did not speak with each other,” the Watford defender added.
“He felt that school was my best chance for a bright future that is not in the offing for many Nigerians. Now that I am a father myself, I can understand him better.
“We are both very stubborn. I wanted to prove him wrong. After the 2018 World Cup, we made peace.”
Troost-Ekong’s success story
Troost-Ekong’s perseverance and tenacity helped him prove his father wrong.
He started his professional career at Groningen in 2013, but it took a year-long loan at FC Dordrecht for the young centre-back to find his feet.
The defender moved to team up with Gent in 2015 but found game time hard to come by in Belgium.
At about that time, Troost-Ekong switched his international allegiance to Nigeria, and it has been an upswing for his career since.
He found success on another loan move to Haugesund in Norway and in 2017, he joined Turkish club Bursaspor.
Troost-Ekong spent only a year in Turkey before Udinese splashed the cash to take him to Italy and offer him his first chance at playing in one of Europe’s top five leagues.
The 29-year-old defender signed for Watford in 2020 and helped the Hornets gain promotion to the English Premier League in his first season.
Troost-Ekong already has a career to be proud of and boasts an Olympic Games bronze medal and an Africa Cup of Nations bronze medal.
He has skippered the Super Eagles and has 62 caps and four goals for the three-time African champions.