INTERVIEW: Nigeria International, Tosin Omoyele Reveals Football Journey

At a tender age, he was the face of COD United – conceivably the most gifted soccer player to have come out of the defunct club.

Tosin Omoyele is a name that strikes fear to defenders in the Nigerian League. In stints at Osun United, Plateau United, Enyimba and Katsina United he became the reliable target man and scored lots of goals.

His adventure abroad has seen him play for Nogoom and now USM Khenchela.

In an exclusive interview with Naija Footballers Forum, the 26-year-old forward reveals his thoughts on life in Algeria, talks about his journey so far as a Footballer and casts an eye towards the future.

Q: Just a few years ago you were playing in the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL). Now you’re in the Algeria Ligue 1 rubbing shoulders with some of the best in Africa. What has it been like as an experience?

Omoyele: Algerian teams do perform well on the continent. USM Algiers won the CAF Confederation Cup. It has been tough and the exciting playing in the Ligue 1. I have played with a lot of footballers, met some good coaches and a couple of national team players. Before you can play in Algeria as a foreigner, you must have been capped in the national team. I think it is a privilege for me and I’m always happy to play. I have enjoyed playing here in Algeria. Many players want a new challenge. It’s not like I am the best to be out of the NPFL, it’s just a rare privilege. I had some challenges at the beginning. They speak French and Arabic. I tried to familiarise with the languages and coped at the end.

Q: The Algerian top flight has been perceived as being difficult to carve a niche for foreign footballers, Will you say that your presence has been well felt within the period spent at Khenchela? For example, how do you communicate with your team-mates? How do the supporters react whenever the team is performing well or the other way round?

Omoyele: Teams believe you have what it takes to be a professional and disciplined. It’s not easy here. They look at your attitude and willingness to be a team player. With the help of my coaches and players, I was able to settle down. The supporters always want someone to give his best. They have the winning mentality and want players to give their best. The fans want you to perform better in every game. Algerians believe that foreigners are professionals and should always give their best whenever they step to the pitch.

Q: Growing up as a teenager, you tormented a lot of defenders in the streets but didn’t really get the chance to showcase the talent given to you by Teams in the league. Who will say gave you that chance to play the Nigerian League?

Omoyele: When growing up, it was streets galore. We tried to make ourselves happy. My passion and love for the game gradually developed. I was always proud to play on the streets. Some Academies around the streets gave me the chance. Through the help of one of my brothers, I joined COD United. Growing up in Lagos helped me as well. Teams like Bridge Boys, Union Bank and First Bank inspired me. I also had the opportunity to see Federation Cup, Nigeria League, Boska Cup and some interesting competitions at the Stadium. I was very attentive and learned from a couple of senior players. It was then I made up my mind to be a professional Footballer.

Q: Gold Cup Coordinator, Mr Tunde Shamsudeen is someone you say a lot of good things about. How influencial has he been to your football career?

Omoyele: Mr Tunde Shamsudeen is God sent to me. I played against Osun United during my stint at COD United. He showed interest and urged me to move to Osun United. Mr Tunde Shamsudeen wants the best for me, he wants me to be successful. He has always tried to encourage. At my lowest ebb, he was always there for me. He has always been good to me. Egbon Shamsudeen introduced me to the Late Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi of blessed memory. Playing for Osun United made people recognise me. Mr Shamsudeen is not just a partner in progress but my family.

Q: How do you cope with life in Algeria? What is favourite food, colour and holiday destination?

Omoyele: Life in Algeria has been training, come back home and eat. Once in a while I go out for shopping. There are few foreigners in the state that I am, so I don’t meet a lot of people. My favourite food is Amala and Ewedu. I love white and black. My preferred holiday destination is Lagos because that’s the location of my family. Smiles …..

Q: Do you envisage a journey to Europe in the course of your football adventure?

Omoyele: If the opportunity comes, I will grab it. Every player wants to play in Europe. Wherever I find myself I will always give the best on the pitch. But right now the focus is on USM Khenchala who pay my wages.

Q: What is your best outfit? Who is favourite NPFL player and coach?

Omoyele: I prefer round neck and jean. I’m not a fan of native wears. I admire Oche Ochewechi a lot. As for my favourite coach, it is no doubt Coach Kennedy Boboye. He understands me very well. He is like a father to me.

Q: Can Tosin Omoyele choose the best XI of players who were his teammates in the NPFL?

Omoyele: Dele Ajiboye, Ogene Elijah, Solomon Junior, Daniel Itodo, Chizoba Amaefule, Farouk Mohammed, Oche Ochowechi, Reuben Bala, Alimi Sikiru, Jesse Akila and myself (Tosin Omoyele).

Q: Which defender did you found difficult to play against in the Nigerian League? Tell us your best moment in the NPFL? Who is your role model?

Omoyele: No doubt, late Chinedu Udoji and Emmanuel Anyanwu. Udoji, may his soul rest in peace. The duo always come hard at me and always warn me to thread softly or get kicked…Smiles…My best moment in the NPFL was when I featured for Plateau United against the CHAN team in Kano. My role model is Lionel Messi. I love Messi so much.

Q: The Ligue 1 will come to an end on Saturday. What are the highs and lows of the 2022/23 season for you?

Omoyele: I think we did well to stabilize. We showed people that the future is bright. The coaches, management and players really did well. My contract with USM Khenchala expires at the end of the season. For now, I just want to come home and enjoy with the family. My future isn’t a priority for now. We will see how things goes.

Q: What has been the greatest moment of your career?

Omoyele: It was my call up for the Super Eagles B team against Atletico Madrid in Uyo. I was very happy because my family, loved ones and fans watched me on TV. It was a great moment to play on the same pitch with Fernando Torres, Thomas Partey, Jan Oblak, Andrea Correa, Juanfran and some of the big names in the Spanish side. I even assisted Usman Mohammed’s goal at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium. 22nd May, 2018 is a defining moment in my career.

Q: What is the difference between NPFL and the Algeria Ligue 1? What has improved in your game as a Footballer since having another stint in North Africa after the previous one in Egypt?

Omoyele: Clubs get sponsors to pay salaries and bonuses. Government owned clubs even do well to get sponsors. In NPFL, it’s majorly Government owned clubs who wait for allocation. I think the NPFL has improved in terms of officiating and TV coverage. In Algeria, games are always on TV. I really enjoyed playing in Egypt because of the coverage. The Federation have a lot of sponsors and it helps the league. There is much fund. In Algeria and Egypt, the road networks are far better. There is little difference compared to Nigeria.

Q: Do you feel disappointed not getting a call up to the main team of the Super Eagles?

Omoyele: It’s the joy of every good player to feature for the National team. Everything is time and I am prepared to wait for it.

Q: Now that the money is coming on a regular basis, hope you are investing for the future? Where do you see yourself in the next 15 years?

Omoyele: Laughs….. Everyone wants a bright future. Life after Football is a priority for me. I hope to invest the little I have on profitable ventures.

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