When the Nigerian international left German side Mainz 05 to join Brighton on a free transfer, we had thought that the move would ensure he gets playing time with the Seagull, which will go a long way in cementing his place in the national team. Unfortunately for Leon Balogun, the chemistry between Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk sky-rocketed, leaving the coach with the choice to sit Leon on the bench.
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It was not just about Dunk and Duffy’s partnership, players like Adam Webster and Dan Burn, also made life difficult for Balogun at the seagulls.
The Chances of Balogun displacing the aforementioned duo (Dunk and Duffy) was still dwindling, until he scored the second-fastest goal by a substitute in the English Premier League, when he came on to replace pascal Gross after Shane Duffy was sent-off in the early stages in the first-half, of their clash against Eagles.
Joy and Excitement were up in the air, as fans of the defender celebrated the fit achieved by him. That goal was just one second higher than that of Daniel Sturridge. I was stunned by the amount of praise Balogun earned as if he scored a World Cup Winner. For a defender that looked like he would never get the chance to prove to the coach and fans that he still had what it takes to be at that top level.
That stunning volley-goal was supposed to have opened the way for Leon Balogun, and yes, it did but he could no longer replicate that Man of the Match performance he had against Crystal Palace. Balogun failed to show consistency and dissatisfaction in his game.
Nigerians urged Balogun to leave Brighton and join a club where he will get playing time. The Technical Adviser of the Super Eagles of Nigeria, Gernot Rohr, was also instrumental in persuading the former Mainz 05 player to leave Brighton.
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Leon Balogun, moved to Wigan Athletic, a Championship side. This was what Nigerians wanted. Balogun had a bright start to life with Wigan, keeping a couple of clean-sheet with the club, while on the field.
Recently, while speaking with newsmen, Balogun confirmed that one of the toughest moment of his career was at Brighton, where he was sidelined for the most part of the season. Balogun while admitting that, Dunk and Duffy’s solid combo was the major reason behind his lack of playing time at the club. He reiterated that it was the choice of the coach, after all.
“I found it difficult to break into the Brighton starting eleven because of the rock-solid partnership between, Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk, but that is the choice of the coach, he preferred the duo, so he had to stick to them,”Leon Balogun
“it is a clear statement, you play the same set of players all the time and when you get the opportunity to play three or four games he says you’ve done well and next thing you find yourself back on the bench.”Balogun
While we await the restart of the Championship, we hope Leon Balogun gets the chance to execute the remainder of the season.
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