Do you want to stay updated on the latest news on football, fashion and lifestyle?


William Troost-Ekong’s mission to shape the future of football

Nigeria captain William Troost-Ekong is on a mission to shape the future of football. The 30-year-old footballer who was named the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations Player of the Tournament spoke to Versus about fatherhood, being an inspiration and the impact he wants to make. ‘’I know there are certain things we have to change in order to leave the world in a better place for my children and their peers.’’

William Troost Ekong

Troost-Ekong, who was born in the Dutch city Haarlem and played for clubs such as FC Dordrecht, FK Haugesund, Udinese and Watford, knows the importance of perseverance and self-belief. ‘’If I think back to when I started my journey, I had to convince my parents to let me play football – looking back now, I think people thought I was deluded to have dreams of making it as a pro,’’ he said to Versus. ‘’But I always thought everything I’ve achieved so far was possible, even as a young boy. Looking back, it’s beautiful to know how focused I was – and I know I can pass on wise words to younger versions of myself out in Nigeria or the wider world. If you really believe in something and you’re willing to go to war for it, why can’t you achieve it?’’

The footballer, who currently plays for Greek side PAOK, became the first player to wear Sokito’s eco-friendly football boots in a major international tournament. It’s a brand close to his heart which he also invested in. ‘’It’s partly down to becoming a father. I look at the world right now and think about my children’s future. I know there are certain things we have to change in order to leave the world in a better place for them and their peers.’’


Becoming a father means the world to Troost-Ekong. ‘’It means everything. I had a difficult relationship with my father growing up – he lived in Nigeria so I wasn’t around him very often. He never wanted me to play football but as I grew up, I started to understand him more. He gave us a great opportunity to study in Europe and go to boarding school in England. He wanted us to have it better than he did.’’

‘’At 15 or 16-years-old, you have fire in your belly and you want to achieve your dreams,’’ says Troost-Ekong to Versus. ‘’I knew there was a time limit on my opportunity to become a pro player and I often tried to explain that to him. I feel like not having a relationship with my dad meant my life was missing something. I always had a dream to be there for my children and now, to be blessed with three healthy children who I can share this journey with…it means the world.’’

The Nigerian international will soon launch his foundation back home in Uyo, Nigeria. He wants to be a source of inspiration to people and make a bigger impact off the pitch. The main mission for him is to give people the opportunity to see that they can achieve what they want to achieve in life. 

‘’We are fortunate to be in the Western world where there are many avenues to achieve your dreams, but there are so many children that don’t have that pathway,’’ says the defender. ‘’Showing them my journey and the willingness not to take the conventional route, or to even keep going when things seem bad – hopefully it will inspire people to do the same when they have similar challenges.’’