Semi Ajayi the wall in Nigeria’s defence

Super Eagles defender Semi Ajayi made his first appearance for Nigeria at a major international tournament at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

The West Brom star has quickly made a name for himself, especially in the English EFL. Ajayi started his career playing for English League One side Charlton Athletic in 2012. He spent six months on loan at the Non-league side Dartford.

He then returned to the Addicks in late December 2012. The Nigerian star put in outstanding performances for Charlton Athletic, and within a year, Arsenal came calling.

Ajayi joined the Gunners in 2013, but he only featured for the youth teams, making 31 appearances in all competitions.

However, after two years at the Emirates, Ajayi had to leave for Cardiff City as he was not given a contract extension.

The Nigerian star moved on again to Rotherham after spending two years at Cardiff. It was at Rotherham that he established himself as one of the most reputable defenders in the EFL.

Ajayi was solid as a rock in the Rotherham defence in the build-up to their promotion to the English Championship in the 2017/18 season.

A key asset that he displayed was finishing in aerial situations. He scored five goals in 35 appearances for Rotherham.

However, Rotherham got relegated on their return to the Championship. Nevertheless, Ajayi was a standout performer, scoring seven goals in 46 appearances for the Millers.

His efforts did not go unnoticed, and West Brom swooped in for him. It was quite a bargain for the Baggies as they secured his services for less than two million euros.

Ajayi slotted right in for West Brom, making 43 appearances and helping them secure promotion to the Premier League.

But it was sour tales for the Super Eagles star as West Brom got relegated immediately.

On the international scene, Semi is still yet to stamp his authority as a first-team player, but whenever he has been called upon, he has been brilliant.

He featured for Nigeria at the Under-20 level, but he was more of a peripheral quantity. Ajayi made his debut for the Super Eagles in September 2018 under former coach Gernot Rohr.

Since then, he has gone on to make 14 more appearances for the three-time champions. The 28-year-old was initially left out of Nigeria’s squad for the 2021 AFCON, but after Leon Balogun pulled out, he got his callup.

Ajayi featured in Nigeria’s games against Egypt and Guinea-Bissau, and he helped Nigeria secure clean sheets in both games.

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