Super Eagles defender Leon Balogun has left English Premier League side Brighton and Hove Albion after his contract ended.
Balogun departs the club having made just 12 appearances and scoring one goal in all competitions in two years – the latter part of which he spent on loan at relegated Championship side Wigan Athletic.
The 32-year took to Twitter to announce that his time with the Seagulls has come to an end and expressed his gratitude to everyone associated with the club.
“As things have finally come to an end on this strange season I’d like to say thank you @OfficialBHAFC & every soul involved for opening the door for me to Premier League football. I’ve felt at ‘home’ from the first second of my time with the Seagulls. Beating Man Utd in the Amex,” Balogun tweeted.
“Having you guys singing my very own chant, playing at Anfield and of course scoring against Palace in front of YOU are memories I’ll carry with me forever. Thank you for making my time in your beautiful city a time I will never forget!”
Balogun who announced that “his next football adventure” will be revealed “very very soon” also penned a heartfelt tribute to Wigan where he spent the last seven months on loan.
“I also want to say thank you and goodbye to Paul Cook and his staff, the team and the whole Tics Family
“@LaticsOfficial. It’s been a very short & super intense time and I’m happy to have played my part in it,” he wrote.
“I would have wished to end my spell with a different outcome, but unfortunately that’s beyond our control now. Regardless I will always remember this as a very special time in my career, in a very special place with a very special club full of very special people,” he added.
Balogun made the move to the Amex Stadium on a free transfer from Bundesliga side FSV Mainz, signing a two-year deal with the Seagulls.
His Premier League career got off to an auspicious start at the Amex when he came on for captain Lewis Dunk in the 3-2 victory against Manchester United in the second game of the season.
Another start followed at Anfield in a 1-0 loss but the defender struggled for playing time thereafter and would only make six more appearances in the league the last of which came against Arsenal on boxing day in 2018.
Despite his lack of game time, Germany-born Balogun was included in Nigeria’s bronze-winning team to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations but eventually lost his place in the national team after failing to make an appearance for Brighton since June 2019.
Failure to displace the first-choice centre back pairing of Dunk and Shane Duffy led Balogun to seek a loan move to Championship strugglers Wigan in January of 2020 where he featured 11 times.
The move paid off as he was recalled to the Super Eagles just before the coronavirus-enforced break.
But despite shoring up the Latics’ defence line and inspiring the team to a long unbeaten run, Balogun could do little to prevent Wigan from getting relegated after they were ducked 12 points for falling into administration (the Latics have challenged their points deduction and subsequent relegation in court).