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Mutiu Adepoju: It is wrong to call young players next Lionel Messi or Austin Okocha

Mutiu Adepoju: It is wrong to call young players next Lionel Messi or Austin Okocha

Former Super Eagles midfielder, Mutiu Adepoju, says it is wrong to call young players the next Lionel Messi or Austine Jay Jay Okocha since it puts them under lots of pressure.

Adepoju, who is also nicknamed the “headmaster” in his playing days disclosed this when he spoke with BBC Sport.

According to him, local media and fans must stop as it is not good for the growth of the players.

He said: “I believe calling young players in the youth teams as the next Messi or Jay-Jay Okocha is unfair and unnecessary.

“Indulging in this comparison is setting them up for failure because the weight of expectations will definitely affect these players mentally.

“It’s the main reason some players refused to work hard and be themselves because they easily get carried away by what the press was writing about them.”

Adepoju also stated that he has seen plenty of younger players who have not made the step-up to senior level over the last ten years.

He said: “We’ve seen in the past decade that we have talented players all over the field who can make our team tick again.

“Nigeria continues to dominate the youth events and there are positive signs of better days to come.

“We just need to nurture these players properly and do away with the hype and noise.

“But if these players are allowed to play their own game and shine, they can be a success both at club and national team level.

“Victor Agali was widely regarded as the next Rashidi Yekini, but he fought extra hard to establish himself and sometimes people expected too much from him.

“He is an example of someone who saw the burden of that label yet worked hard to establish his own name.”

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