Sunday, 7 August 2016

Orphaned at 13: The rise of a Premier League Nigerian who fended for himself and siblings as a child

Moses Odubajo who plays for Hull City and is  in the England under 20 squad has a rag to riches story.

Growing up with a hardworking mom and a former nurse who ran a sexual health aadvic centre for young people  in Peckam, life was very comfortable .

  But an unfortunate incident in 2006 turned things around the the lives of the footballer and his brothers. 

Their mom Esther died from malaria. She did not get the vaccine because he grew up in Nigeria where the disease is rampant and thought she was immune to it. 

Things became more complicated as she died in Uganda within 45 days where she went to seek help. They became prone to child services interrogation. Not wanting to live separately as she would not want that, they had to survive on less than £400 pounds a month.

In recounting his ordeal, he talked about when they chose between heating the food and   and lived on tins of sardines, corned beef and sweetcorn – often scrounging £2 school lunches or eating at friends’ homes. 

Moses, now in Hull City said their mom never complained of tough times making them not to feel sorry for themselves. 

So they picked that strong independence from her and felt there was no way they would end up in foster homes. They therefore decided to hide what was going on at home from every one including their teachers.

Moses was on trial with Millwall when his stepdad broke the news. He said: “In my 13-year-old world, it never occurred something would happen to mum.

 It seemed so surreal."Nobody had mentioned malaria. I remember thinking she must have been very poorly when she took to her room, away from us boys, as she ­always wanted to be around us.”

 After the funeral, Moses said his grieving stepdad moved out, staying a few nights a week at first and then visiting once a week to drop off the Family Allowance of £20.

He paid rent, council tax and electric but the boys had to cover food and gas.Brother Idris, who was 19 and had left home, helped out but took Esther’s death so hard he turned to crime and got two years for robbery. Feeling helpless daily- mail reports he quit football.

Fortunately his brother Tom was earning £300 a month from Barnet FC academy, so he used the money to look after them.

Moses later returned to football in 2009 on a youth scholarship at Leyton Orient and graduated to the senior squad in 2010 and returning to Championship side Brentford four years later for an alleged £1million before joining Hull City for £3.5million on a three year deal.

He now lives in Leeds but has never forgotten his roots, saving cash and making investments because “a career in football is short”.


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