The Germany international has his heart in the right place with his foundation as well as efforts to ensure young Nigerian players get access to good opportunities in his father’s hometown.
Until Karim Adeyemi’s now famous fufu quote hit the headlines in February, not many Nigerians gave him a second thought as a member of their diaspora community. Afterall, the player had chosen Germany over the Nigerian national team and so had become ‘lost’ to them.
But the 21-year-old’s love for his father’s land and culture has since come to the fore after the interview when he scored a spectacular match-winning goal against Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 game in Dortmund.
That post-match interview went viral as he attributed his speed and athletic prowess to the West African staple meal, fufu, and his genetics passed on by his Nigerian father. Karim’s mother, Alexandra, is Romanian.
Afterwards, videos emerged on social media of Karim eating eba in the most Nigerian of ways; he cut the eba, molded it into a ball, threw it in the air, caught it mid-flight and proceeded to scoop some okra soup before swallowing the bolus. There is nothing more Nigerian.
Karim Adeyemi’s secret to his pace. He is currently the fastest player in the Bundesliga.#SikkaSports #Sikka895 pic.twitter.com/6keE2417od
— Sikka Sports (@SikkaSports895) February 16, 2023
A father’s dream
Karim’s father, Abiodun, was a former footballer himself. He moved to Germany in the late 1990s to try his fortune at professional football, but could not fulfil his dreams.
According to a statement by the foundation, he was deemed too old by the time he arrived in Europe. He ended up doing unskilled jobs to make a living before meeting his wife, Alexandra, another immigrant who faced the odds that were stacked against her.
Despite their struggles, they raised Karim with love and supported his football dreams from a young age. Karim was scouted by Bayern Munich as an eight-year-old boy but would be let go for his failure to fit into their system at age ten. His tenacity kept him going, and his father’s support ensured he did not lose his faith in his own abilities after being let go by the German giants.
He was signed up by SpVgg Unterhaching where he developed further and played for four seasons in the Junior Bundesliga. He gained his confidence and became a sought-after talent.
In 2018, Karim moved to Austria to play for the youth team of Red Bull Salzburg and hit a good patch that got him promoted to the senior team, where he won the Austrian Bundesliga thrice and became the top scorer in the 2021-22 season.
This led to his call-up to the German national team and an eventual $33 million transfer to Borussia Dortmund ensued in July 2022.
He had fulfilled his father’s dreams of playing professional football in Germany.
Giving through football
It is not just through fufu that Karim is showing affiliation with his Nigerian heritage.
In December, Karim and his father returned to Ibadan, their hometown, where they checked on the progress of the Adeyemi Football Club, an outreach being run by the player’s foundation, the Karim Adeyemi Foundation.
The club is trained by experienced local coach Kolawole Emmanuel.
The club’s young players were happy to meet their founder and benefactor, and they played an exhibition match against NPFL side 3SC to the delight of the shy youngster. This semi-pro club, in one of the most historical cities in Nigeria, is helping young footballers to pursue their passion while earning a living.
“They receive a stipend for their upkeep from the Karim Adeyemi Foundation,” a source close to the player told Soccernet.ng.
Largely administered by his father, Karim is said to be very keen on ensuring that the young footballers get the best of amenities for their development and hopefully secure professional moves overseas.
@karim_adeyemi born in Munich, Germany, to a Nigerian father and Romanian mother. He is a German @DFB_Team_EN and @bvb professional footballer. Karim relates his relationship with Nigeria and expresses himself in the Yoruba dialect. Full video on this link https://t.co/k7THCbKZA7 pic.twitter.com/pPY3LwKn29
— Ifaseesin Olosun Egbebi (@ifaseesinolosun) June 9, 2022
The Karim Adeyemi Foundation recently purchased two Coaster buses at the cost of 35 million Naira to get the players to games in style and comfort.
“We have plans for them to get into the National League (NLO) in the coming season,” the source said.
The club currently trains and plays some of its friendly matches at the grounds of the private Ilaji Resort in Ibadan.
Despite Karim’s decision to represent Germany over his father’s country, he is showing that his heart is in the right place by being close to his roots and empowering the young people that look up to him.
Listen to the AfroBuli FC Podcast: Karim Adeyemi and the Power of Fufu
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