From Obscurity To Euro Glory: Nigeria Folorunsho’s Fairytale Rise With Italy | The Legend News

Michael Folorunsho’s journey from obscurity to European Championship debut is a tale of perseverance and determination. Just last year, the 26-year-old was yet to play in Italy’s top division, but he has since risen to represent the Azzurri at EURO 2024.

Folorunsho’s story is one of overcoming adversity. Despite being overlooked by Nigeria, his country of origin, he has found success with Italy. His Serie A debut only came last August, but he has quickly made a name for himself in the Italian football scene.

On Saturday, Folorunsho made his European Championship debut as a stoppage-time substitute in Italy’s 2-1 win over Albania. It was a moment of triumph for the late bloomer, who has proven that hard work and dedication can lead to achieving even the most unlikely of dreams.

Folorunsho’s fairytale rise is an inspiration to many, and his story serves as a reminder that success often comes to those who refuse to give up on their aspirations.

“I think it was inconceivable 12 months ago,” Folorunsho said Wednesday. “I don’t think I could have ever imagined that a year on, I’d be playing at the European Championship.”

Folorunsho made his tournament debut Saturday against Albania

Folorunsho, an attack-minded midfielder, scored five goals for Hella Verona last season after joining the team on loan from Napoli. He played more league games, 34, than any other outfield player on the team.

Physically strong, combative and versatile, Folorunsho has a powerful strike and is good in the air, too.

“I never stopped dreaming. But that now drives me forward because once you get to a certain level, that´s when the going gets really tough. You have to work even harder to make sure you stay there,” said Folorunsho, who spent previous loan spells at Serie B teams Bari, Reggina and Pordenone. Bari was in Serie C when Napoli initially sent him there in 2019.

Folorunsho was speaking beside Italy coach Luciano Spalletti before the team´s Euro 2024 clash with Spain in Gelsenkirchen on Thursday. Spalletti was familiar with Folorunsho from their time together at Napoli and it was Spalletti who called him to the Italy squad for the first time in March, though the player had to wait until June before making his debut in a friendly win over Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Though born in Rome, Folorunsho could also have played for Nigeria. He was reportedly overlooked by then-Nigeria coach José Peseiro for his Africa Cup of Nations squad.

Folorunsho said he’d be willing to play in goal if it meant helping Italy, the defending champion, win the European Championship again.

As for his relatively late ascent to Italy’s top division and international soccer, Folorunsho said he felt it was “only right” that he had made it at 26.

“Every footballer has their own path. I’ve had my own route in the game and I wouldn’t swap it with anyone’s. I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved,” Folorunsho said. “A number of people thought that I wasn’t ready. I accepted their decision and I got my head down and kept grafting to make it here today. I feel ready now. I feel ready to embark on challenges which appeared too great for me in the past. So, I’d like to dedicate this to my mum and my family because they’ve always supported me.”

Source: Associated Press


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