The dream of every domestic footballer is to secure a move to a big club abroad preferably in Europe, but oftentimes, a player might have to take a more circuitous route to their dream destination.
It is such a scenario with Joshua Akpudje who says his move to Latvian side BFC Daugavpils is a “stepping stone” on his part to his dream destination of Old Trafford.
Long touted for great things, the imposing centre-back joined the Latvian Higher League side from Nigerian Premier Football League side MFM FC in March after just one and a half seasons following his professional debut.
It’s been a meteoric rise for a player who was playing grassroots football at Femmak Football Academy just two years ago.
While he might have come a long way in such a short period, the 21-year-old reveals he suffered several rejections in Europe before sealing the move to Latvia.
And Akpudje is full of gratitude for the role his agent and several others have played in helping him get to this point in his career.
“I thank God for where I am and where I started from,” Akpudje told busybuddiesng.com.
“Being to Europe more than three times and I never gave up. Playing in the NPFL is not easy for me like 21 years old playing in the NPFL in Nigeria and being here today, it’s not easy but I just want to give God the glory that I never gave up on myself and my manager never gave up on me.
“Steven Ayo Makinwa I want to say a big thanks to you and to all my loved ones too in Nigeria and my fans and for MFM giving me the chance to be here today I wanna say a big thanks to them also.”
While he is happy to have finally made it out of Nigeria, Akpudje admits that Latvia isn’t exactly his idea of El Dorado and that BFC Daugavpils is just a first and hopefully shortlived launchpad on his journey to bigger things.
He, however, understands that he must make the most of the opportunity in Latvia and put himself in the shopping window by excelling for Daugavpils.
“I’m very, very happy for my move though this is not what I was dreaming for but it is just a stepping stone for me,” he said.
“Now I’m in Europe its a goal I’ve been dreaming off so I have to give my best in my new team.
“Seeing myself in Latvia is not for two years or three years. I’m seeing myself with my hard work, with God, I know this season is going to be good for me by the grace of God so I can move out before the end of the season for a better team. So, I can only give my best and I leave the rest to God.
The U23 international is likely to make his debut later today when Daugavpils host Liepāja and has vowed to ensure that the club would have no reason to “regret that they signed me”.
To that end, his goal is to leave an indelible mark by ensuring a top-three finish for modest Daugavpils who narrowly survived relegation last season.
“My goal for the season, all players dream to play in the Champions League, that is my first goal,” Akpudje disclosed.
“My goal for the team is to put my team in a good place to make them happy that I’m here not to make them regret that they signed me.
“To show what I’m made of to work out all my strength for the team and to make the team be in a good shape in the league and give them all my best and plan to be in the top three in the league this season.”
Those are big dreams but nothing compared to his “second dream” which is to follow in the footsteps of compatriot and fellow dreamer Odion Ighalo in calling the Theatre of Dreams home.
“[My] second goal is to play for Manchester United,” he declared.
And with Ighalo having turned up at Old Trafford via the circuitous route of Norway, Italy, Spain, England and China, who is to say Akpudje won’t have a similarly happy ending.