So a few weeks ago, something pretty surreal happened. It was Christmas, and I was reading one of multiple round robin letters that our family had received over the festive period. A line in one of them, from my late grandfather’s cousin in-law Wim Troost, caught my eye. It talked about his grandson William, who was a professional footballer.
How had I not known this before? I asked my dad about William, and quickly discovered that he had previously played for the youth academies of both Fulham and Tottenham. A quick google search then told me that he was now playing for Norwegian side Haugesund, on loan from Belgian champions Gent. The 22 year old centre-back also has four caps for the Nigerian national team after playing for the Dutch youth teams.
I was fascinated. A professional footballer that was related to me?! This is incredible I thought, and quickly got in contact with William on Twitter and here we are. I present to you It’s Football Not Soccer‘s fourth ever interview, but the most special one yet…
Olly Allen: Was football always the aim when you were a child?
William Troost-Ekong: I think it was when I was around six years old that I really fell in love with playing football but it wasn’t until I was in my early teens that I decided that it was really what I wanted to aim for in life.
OA: Who were your role models growing up?
WTE: I was a big fan of Thierry Henry and loved watching him at Arsenal as I grew a bit older and changed to being a defender I started looking up to Vincent Kompany as a role model.
OA: What was it like playing for the youth academies of Tottenham and Fulham?
WTE: Yeah it was really a dream come true at first when I signed there. It has prepared me well as a player I think and I had to grow up quick as a person training so seriously since a young age.
OA: How different is English football to that of Dutch and Norwegian football?
WTE: English football is more comparable to Norwegian than Dutch. In Holland it was total football and a lot of tactics and passing. Whereas Norwegian and English can be more direct at times when necessary.
OA: What was your reaction to being called up to the Nigerian national team for the first time?
WTE: I was surprised but very proud of course. I was playing well at the time and aware that they were following me, but it happened quickly.
OA: Who is the best player you have played with and against in your career?
WTE: The best player probably Ahmed Musa who I played with at the national team. Best striker I have played against probably Luuk de Jong from PSV.
OA: Would you ever consider a return to England if an offer came in?
WTE: Yeah I think so. I still feel like I have unfinished business in England and when the time is right and with the right offer I would consider it.
OA: Do you have any career goals or aspirations?
WTE: My main focus day in day out is improving as a player but in the longer term I want to play at a big tournament for Nigeria and do well and win a major prize at the club level after tasting such success with the promotion we won at Dordrecht when I played there.
Many thanks to William for taking the time to answer my questions. It’s quite surreal knowing that I’m related to a professional footballer – hopefully in 10 years time he’ll be winning the Champions League and I’ll be editor in chief at the Telegraph! You can find William on Twitter: @wtroostekong
To read my other interviews, with Reading FC Women’s Lauren Bruton, Cheltenham Town boss Gary Johnson and Sunderland Ladies’ Stephanie Roche, just click here.