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William Troost-Ekong On His Time At The Rio 2016 Olympics
Back in January, I interviewed William Troost-Ekong, my third cousin and Nigerian international footballer. Seven months on, William has become captain of his club FK Haugesund and picked up a bronze medal at the Olympics games. Nigeria topped their group in Brazil before beating Denmark 2-0 in the quarter-finals. Germany unfortunately proved too strong in the last four, but the Super Eagles recovered and well to win the bronze medal match 3-2 against Honduras. William played every minute of the tournament, and can be seen collecting his medal below:
William has kindly taken the time to answer some questions on his time at the games, which he has described as “my best football experience so far”.
Talk me through the situation before the tournament started, when your team-mates only arrived in Manaus a few hours before kick-off against Japan?
I had already arrived in Manaus because I left the training camp in Atlanta to come home to play with FK Haugesund before going to Brazil. However the team was still in Atlanta and due to payment complications for the chartered flight, the team was stranded for 2 days. On the day of the opening game they finally arrived on a 7 hour flight and literally had to go straight to the stadium to play. I have had better match preparations!
What was it like to be playing in stadiums used in the World Cup two years ago and in front of fans that are football mad?
It was amazing the fans received us very well and throughout the tournament the Brazilians and Nigerians who were there really stood behind us. All the stadiums we played in were new and well filled so it created a good atmosphere.
Who was ‘the joker’ in the Nigeria squad?
That would have to be our captain Mikel. He was the star of our team and of course has achieved most from all of us, up until now.
What was it like to be playing alongside such an experienced player such as John Obi Mikel?
It was good he played a more forward role in midfield and helped us to create and score goals. I have played with him before with the Super Eagles and it gives us confidence having a player of his calibre in our team.
Who was the toughest opponent you faced at the tournament?
Germany where the toughest, they had a very strong team with a lot of experience and played tactically well. On the day in the semi final they where better than us unfortunately.
How proud were you to be selected for the squad, let alone ending playing every game and picking up a bronze medal?
It has been my best football experience so far. Lining up every game with the national anthem in a packed stadium is something special, but being able to bring a medal home and make everyone proud are the moments I play football for.
So now you head back to Norway with Haugesund, what are you hopes for the rest of the season and when your loan expires at the end of the year?
We’re on track for a top 3 finish in the league so that is really what I am focused on now. I want to leave the club by giving back to them so that would be the best way for me to do that. Then in November I’m looking forward to a new chapter back in Belgium with Gent, that will be a new challenge for me to establish myself.
Finally, sum up your Olympics experience in three words!
Exciting, Proud, Unbelievable.
Many thanks to William for answering the questions, and best of luck for the rest of the season!