Balogun wants Brighton place

Brighton's Nigeria defender Leon Balogun will always remember his debut for the South Coast outfit against Manchester United.

"I think until the end of my days. 100 percent.

"My parents were there. That's probably what is most special about it. It's not too common that you come on as a centre-half in games like this so that was a bit of a surprise, but then you always have to be ready. I'm happy I was.

"It's not usual you score three against Man United. We had an excellent day.

Despite his mixed Nigerian and German heritage, when it came to international football it was an easy choice to make.

"I always chose Nigeria. I was raised in Germany and have their values so I feel German, but at the same time you have that feeling that you are not like the rest. 

"I was accepted. In football sometimes I faced discrimination or rascism, even, but in my opinion it's a privilege.

That said, his route to the Super Eagles came partly after a trip to see a faith healer after a period of struggling with injuries.

"I had a lot of issues and my sister said go and see this one lady. She was reading auras and I went phooh. She asked me some questions about my right shoulder and I was like how would she know? She said there was a hole that was attracting bad energy into my whole being.

"After she asked me if I had lost a dear person four or five years ago that was when she had my whole attention because my grandma had died at that time. I never really met my grandma in Nigeria, but when she died it was one of the worst feelings I had in my life. This lady could read it or see it somehow and she gave me the advice to go to Nigeria and reconnect with the country. 

"When I got the call from the national team that reconnection started and everything fell into place. I'm very happy about the way the things happened in the end.

Balogun admits to being sceptical that it really was Stephen Keshi calling at first but it's a decision that led to the World Cup in Russia.

Nigeria eventually missed out on a last 16 place after being in a tough group that with eventual finalists Croatia, Iceland and a Lionel Messi led Argentina.

"I met Messi after the game. We spoke and swapped jerseys. It's a great honour especially if you give them a hard time like we did. It was tough but a great experience. 

It's taken Balogun a while to arrive in the Premier League. He's now 30 and injuries have restricted him to 86 Bundesliga appearances although he has 21 Nigerian caps. 

Brighton were able to pick him up on a free transfer but he insists he is not here to make up the numbers.

"For me the biggest motivation was to play in the Premier League. I didn't want to just sign for a club and then sit on the bench or in the stand.

"The club is nice, the training facilities are something I have never seen before. I'm happy I can be a part of it and I think I can have a good time here.

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