Sixteen years after taking his martial arts skills to New Zealand, Nigerian-born current Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) interim middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya stepped his feet on his fatherland yesterday.
The arrival of Adesanya, who defeated America’s Kelvin Gastelum during a UFC 236 fight in Atlanta, USA a few weeks ago, caused a major stir at the Murtala Mohammed International airport yesterday afternoon as immigration officers and other security personnel at the airport scrambled to shake his hand.
After a brief stay at the airport, Adesanya and his accompanying team zoomed off to an unknown destination in Lagos.
His father, Femi Adesanya told The Guardian in a telephone chat yesterday that Last Stylebender, as Israel Adesanya is fondly called, was in Nigeria to feel the environment, which he left about 16 years ago.
“Israel came home just to feel the environment, eat the local food and meet with the people. The visit is just like a holiday for him,” the senior Adesanya revealed from his base in New Zealand.
Adesanya’s victory at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia, earned him the interim middleweight championship belt in one of the best title fights ever seen in combat sports history.
The Nigerian won via unanimous decision. He moved to New Zealand when he was 13.
Adesanya had defeated Brazil’s Anderson Silva in February at UFC 234 contest in Melbourne, Australia, but his battle against Gastelum, a Mexican fighter in Atlanta, was fascinating.
It was not clear yesterday if Adesanya will appear at any public function, but a source close to the fighter hinted he might hold a meeting with Ogun State Governor Ibekunle Amusan before he returns to New Zealand. He hails from Odogbolu, Ogun State.
Adesanya trained in taekwondo briefly during his primary school days at Opebi, Lagos before he relocated to New Zealand at the age of 13.
Van Dijk Crowned EPL Player Of The Season
Liverpool defender, Virgil van Dijk has been crowned the Premier League’s Player of the Season, just days after he won PFA Players’ Player of the season.
The Holland international, 27, who has been Liverpool’s key player in the 2018-19 Premier League campaign is now the third defender to win the trophy after Nemanja Vidic and Vincent Kompany.
The winner was decided by a mixture of votes from fans, the captains of the 20 Premier League clubs and a panel of football experts.
Van Dijk who was signed from Southampton in a world record £75m deal for a defender in 2017, has four Premier League goals this season has also helped Liverpool keep 20 clean sheets in 37 games so far.
Bayern Munich star, David Alaba speaks on how refusal to pay bribe stopped him from playing for Nigeria
David Alaba, Bayern Munich star, has accused coaches of the Golden Eaglets of denying him the opportunity to join the Nigerian squad at the 2007 FIFA World Cup in South Korea because he refused to pay bribe.
The late Yemi Tella was in charge of the Eaglets at the time.
In an interview with All Nigeria Soccer, Alaba called the Nigeria U-17 coaches, “jokers” and vowed not to have anything to do with any of them in future.
He claimed to have trained with Palanga midfielder, Haruna Lukman Abdulkarim, UB Conquense forward, Macauley Chrisantus and Slovan Bratislava’s midfielder, Rabiu Ibrahim ahead of the 2007 World Cup.
The 26-year-old was eligible to represent Nigeria but he switched to Austria, his country of birth, after that encounter.
Alaba, who was born in Vienna, capital of Austria, has a Filipino mother and Nigerian father.
Alaba has earned 68 caps for Austria, scoring 13 goals and represented the country at the 2016 European Championship.
On September 9, 2007, the late Tella led a team of youngsters to win the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
That was the third time Nigeria had that title after previous wins in 1985 in China and 1993 in Japan.
Messi sets new records, wins 10th La Liga title with Barcelona
Lionel Messi came off the bench to hand Barcelona its fourth La Liga title in five years in a 1-0 defeat of Levante.
Messi broke Andre Iniesta’s record as the player with the most La Liga titles with Barcelona, setting a new record at 10 titles, one title ahead of the Spanish midfielder.
Messi broke the deadlock in the 61st minute when he picked up Arturo Vidal’s header inside the box and curled a low shot past Aitor Fernandez.
This goal was his 24th league goal as a substitute, the highest from any player off the bench in at least 19 years.
Messi ultimately sealed the victory with a cool finish to ensure treble-chasing Barca remain on course for a memorable season for the club’s 26th La Liga title on Saturday.
Cries of “campeones” rang out from the 91,000 supporters crammed into the Nou Camp but Barca’s players dropped their concentration and Jose Luis Morales should have levelled for the visitors but blasted over the bar.
The Argentine notched his 34th league goal of the season with the goal.
Barcelona have now won its eighth league crown in 11 years.
With three matches remaining, a nine-point lead over Atletico Madrid and a superior head-to-head, although amazingly it was the first time since 2010 they had clinched it at the Nou Camp.
They remain on track for a third treble since 2009 with the Copa del Rey final against Valencia next month.
Levante also hit the post in the final stages as Barca were left clinging on to their narrow advantage deep into stoppage-time but relief came when they cleared a corner and the final whistle sounded.
Barca lead the standings on 83 points after 35 games, an unassailable nine clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid with three matches left because they have a superior head-to-head record with Atleti this season.
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