BY KUNLE SOLAJA
When the English Premiership kicks off for the 2021/22 football season on 13 August, at least three players from Ikenne, the home town of Nigeria’s Vice President, Yemi Osibajo, will be in action.
From hardcore politics to sports, the narrative is changing for the town which is the melting pot for South West politics having produced the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
The geographical urban village is noted for producing the highest number per square metre of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN). Till date, there have been over 20 SANs to have emerged from the town.
The town boasts of eminent jurists. Apart from Awolowo, Vice President Osibajo, a professor, is one of the SANs including a former Nigeria’s Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Kehinde Sofola and the town also simultaneously had the Attorney General of Lagos and Ogun states when two brothers – Yemi and Akin were on the saddle from 2003 to 2007.
Social commentator, Tai Solarin was also one of the illustrious sons of Ikenne. From politics and legal practice, the town is now edging into producing football stars.
With a fast rising football club, Remo Stars owned by Kunle Soname who is also the first Nigerian to acquire a foreign club as the owner of Clube Desportivo Feirenses, in the Liga Portugal 2club in the Portuguese league, Ikenne will in the next English Football Season line out three of its products.
Michael Obafemi, a Nigerian-born Irish player is of Ikenne parentage and will be featuring for Southampton.
Last season, he dealt a devastating blow on Manchester United’s initial attempt at top four when he scored a last minute goal that made United to tumble from third position to the fifth.
Next is another Ikenne son, Dapo Mebude has just completed a move from Scottish side, Glasgow Rangers to English Premiership side, Watford.
The 19 year old was one of the six players of Nigerian roots that the NFF president, Amaju Pinnick met at the weekend during Oghenekaro Etebo’s first training session with the Vicarage Road side.
The other Nigerians at Watford are William Ekong, Emmanuel Dennis and former junior internationals, Isaac Success and Tom Dele-Bashiru.
Dapo Mebude, whose father, Babtunde Awokoya-Mebude has sports running in the family. He was a striker during his secondary school days at United High School in Ikenne in the 1980s.
His first son, Adedoyin is into athletics and had a stint in sprint. He set up an outfit called Totalsocceplus which now manages his siblings.
Both Adedoyin and Dapo have a younger brother, Dire Mebude who has just signed a professional contract with Premiership champions, Manchester City.
Dire Mebude was initially with Manchester City youth side, but the pacy striker has now graduated to the main squad.
Both Dapo and Dire were born in London before their parents moved to Scotland and after attending an open soccer school event organised by Glasgow Rangers rose from youth side into the club’s main squad.