This is not the typical from grass to glory story of most footballers as he was born in Harlem, Netherlands to a Nigerian father from Akwa Ibom and a Dutch mother.
As a kid, he loved football but it was a forbidden love that led to a serious friction in his family between his parents.
He simply refused to give up on his love and it had serious consequences.
After 3 years, his father was expecting him to return home with university admission but Ekong returned with documents to gain admission into a football Academy and this infuriated his father who refused to sign the documents.
“NOT EVERYONE NEEDS TO BELIEVE IN YOUR DREAM, BUT YOU DO”
With just one day remaining for Ekong to get his parents signature to allow him get admission into a football Academy, his mother who had always supported his football dreams signed the documents for him.
“IT DOESN’T ALWAYS GET EASY WHEN YOUR’E PURSUING YOUR DREAMS BUT HOLD ON!!!”
Mr. Ekong as a father just wanted the best for his son, an education but all his son wanted was to become a footballer.
“NEVER THINK YOU’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH”
He left the academy but refused to give up on football because he couldn’t afford to go back at this point so he used it as a motivation to keep fighting.
He returned to the Netherlands where he joined a small team called Groningen in 2013 but was sent to FC Dordrecht on loan to help him find his feet as he kept on struggling.
After a year at FC Dordrecht where he did well, he moved to Gent in 2015 to join the Belgium giants but found game time hard to come by.
“IT WILL GET DIFFICULT BEFORE IT GETS FINE”
This move coincided with an upswing in his career.
He was sent on loan to Norway where he did well and this led to him moving to Turkish club, Bursaspor in 2017.
After a year in Turkey, he earned himself a move to join Italian Serie A side, Udinese.
In 2018 after the World Cup reconciled with his father who could now see his son fulfil his dreams.
“GOOD THINGS COME TO THOSE WHO DON’T GIVE UP!!!”
Troost Ekong became a very important member of the Udinese team and after 2 years in Italy earned a dream move to the England where he signed for Championship side, Watford, who he helped gain promotion to the EPL in his first season.
At this point he was also having a successful international career with Nigeria, winning the Olympic bronze medal with the Nigerian Under-23 and forming a solid rock partnership with Leon Balogun at the national team.
A partnership, Nigerians called “The Oyibo Wall”
“GIVING UP SHOULD NEVER BE AN OPTION”
In January 2023, he joined Italian side, Salernitana where he had an injury hit season and had only 9 appearances.
This lead to him being dropped from the National team and even after he moved to Greece where he recovered his form and was playing regularly, he wasn’t still invited back to the Nigerian team and this went on for close to a year and Ekong almost thought of retiring from international football.
“I KNOW YOU’RE THINKING OF GIVING UP, DON’T, NOT YET”
After giving it a deep thought, he decided to keep waiting, even when he got a call back, he was always left on the bench but he never stopped working hard.
He regained his place back into the starting line up and made it to the AFCON and since day one has remained the BEST CENTRAL DEFENDER in the tournament and has now led Nigeria to the AFCON finals scoring three high pressure penalties.
“DO YOU STILL WANT TO GIVE UP???”
If it’s worth having then it’s worth fighting for. No good thing comes easy.
And trust me, it’s ALWAYS worth it, the smile at the end is always worth all the struggles!!!
“NO GREE FOR ANYBODY OOOOH”