Gym instructor, professional football player, a pastor in-waiting and a professional actor, Michael Opeyemi Adeyemi is truly a man of many parts. Born and bred in Nigeria before relocating to United Kingdom to further his education. Adeyemi believes so much in God despite the fact he’s a superstar in his chosen careers. Idris Bello, CEO of Shybell Media was in London over Xmas when he came across this bunch of talents. Excerpts of the interview:
What is your origin?
No! I am Naija boy. Born and bred in Nigerian but I moved to England when I was 9 years old.
Can you ascertain reason for your relocation as at that time?
I move to England because my mum was moving to England and it was also to further my education.
You said you are into acting, how come?
I am into acting because my mum is an actress and every time she’s going on location, she always took me along and I just fell in love with acting. And I have also done a couple of films myself.
Which movies are such?
Akeweje, Omo Odun Kan, Ewee Orun, Iise Won Who is your mum in the movie industry? Aderonke Ajenise Oduborisa, aka Ashabi Olorisha
Have you ever acted since you relocated to England?
Yes, I have Iise Won (Their Doings) What is your experience, comparing Nigerian and UK movie industry? Nigerian movie industry, uhunnn! The director demands a lot from you, they always want everything 100% and want everything to be perfect; compares to the UK where you are left with your own judgment and delivery, though they want perfection too, but free-hand is giving.
You studied sports science, are you practicing it in any form?
Sport science is a course I enjoy because it’s about the body and how it works during exercises. It also teaches you what kind food you have to eat to give you energy. It’s related to our daily route.
Michael is how old now?
Just 21 going 22.
Apart from been a gym instructor, what else do you do?
Gym instructor is just something on the side. What I do for a living is play football. I play for a Ryman league team, which a semi-pro team, 6 leagues away from the Premier League in England. How did you start your football career? I started my football career at the age of five through my late uncle, Rafiu Adekunle Ajenishe, my mum’s immediate junior. Uncle Kunle used to play for Abiola Babes, Great Nigeria Insurance and NEPA. However, I was living in Walsall when my school football team had a trial so I went for the trial and my coach was very impressed. He was so impressed he wanted to see my mum to tell her to let me take this football very serious. So, my mum gave her consent. My school coach said I have a rare talent.
What’s your position in your team?
My coach loved the fact I have the ability to play any position, but for my team I play Right Back or Centre Back
What has being the challenges so far, considering the fact that you are black?
The challenge so far is racism. There is still racism in UK football. I remember a time I was playing for a team, but the manager will never pick me even though he knew I was the best player for the job. He would always pick the white players instead.
Have you participated in any major tournament so far?
Yeah! There is a big tournament this year we are in. Whoever wins get to represent England, with the English FA paying for all the travel expenses in Spain and other parts of the world. Are you planning to play for England or Nigeria? For this tournament I will, but I want to play for my father land though I’m a dual citizen.
So you are saying if you are called by the Nigeria national team to fly her flag you will?
Yes. I will pick Nigeria over England Do you think you can cope with the Nigeria football association politics? Yes I can. They run the football structure as their job demands. My own duty is to represent my country on the pitch and play well. Our elders or, should I say our past players, mostly get it wrong. It’s not always about money though. Money is part of it. Meanwhile, I know with time things will get better.
I learnt you once played for Arsenal junior club?
I never played for Arsenal junior club. I was playing for Arsenal Kicks, which basically is like an Arsenal community programme run by Arsenal. But we were presented with a medal by one of the Arsenal players at the Arsenal home ground; that was when Adebayor was playing for them. I’ve played for teams like Brighton, Southend and Barnet but also during those times my coach will send me on trial and I have been on trial at teams like Birmingham and MK Dons.
Which football clubs are you supporting and why?
I support Manchester United and Walsall FC. Both teams I love very much. I support Walsall because I used to live in the area and Manchester United, my uncle supported them so he always took me to the home games and I just fell in love with the Club. I like your courage. Are you at any point thinking of coming back home to settle down? If I can find a club in Nigeria, then I will love to stay in the country. Like I always say, there is no place like home.
What does it take to become a professional player?
Hard work, self discipline and lots of motivation. Many people will doubt your ability, but you have to be motivated. Then prayers! Because without God, all things will seem impossible. I am a believer and I am a born again. I attend Goodnews Church and I am a worker in my church. You see, my dad is a pastor and my spiritual parents are Pastor & Pastor Mrs. Amadi. I also have a friend and he is a young pastor, so he also my spiritual dad as well.
You hardly mentioned your dad since?
My dad was never in my life. My mum was a single mum, so I learnt everything I know today from her. She showed me the way of God, but I thank God, me and my dad are on talking terms now. I can be angry all day all year, but he is still my dad so I still got to love him and show him the respect. What’s your dad’s full name and is he living in England too? Pastor Adeyemi. No, he lives in Nigeria.
Being a sport person and someone who knows Christ, how do you cope with the opposite sex?
I keep myself clean. I believe in marriage before sex. I got a lot of female friends, but they respect me more; coupled with the fact I am into Christ because in London it is very hard to find an handsome guy like me that is into Christ (Laughter). opeyemi2 If you are not a football player, what else will you do? That is a very hard question because I’ve always seen myself as a football player. But if I wasn’t a footballer, I will probably say I will become a full time actor because of my mum. I would love to carry her legacy. Which of the footballers do you look up to? I got many, but my two best players are Jay Jay Okocha and Joseph Yobo. No foreign player? Nope. I love my Nigerian players.
What would you say to upcoming talents?
Put God first in everything you do and he will repay you back in many ways. He’s loving and a caring God