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Published On: Fri, Feb 10th, 2023

Delta Born Tega Wanogho Makes Wave In  America NFL Super Bowl Clash

TEGA WANOGHO

LAGOS FEBRUARY 10TH (URHOBOTODAY)-The NFL may be looking to Europe for new fans but when it comes to new talent on the field it is Africa and Nigeria in particular that is delivering.

On Sunday, one of the dozen Nigerian-born players in the league, offensive tackle Prince Tega Wanogho, will be part of the Kansas City Chiefs roster for the Super Bowl clash against the Philadelphia Eagles.

He isn’t the first Nigerian in the biggest game and he certainly won’t be the last.

TEGA WANOGHO 2

“It is a blessing. This is the biggest stage in football. That’s why everybody wants to come here, everybody wants to do this,” he told AFP in an interview on Thursday at the team’s hotel.

“A lot of people back home, they are proud (of me) and just looking forward, trying to get that opportunity, the same opportunity to come here someday and do the same thing,” he said.

Wanogho, born in Delta State in southeast Nigeria, moved to Alabama in his teens and found himself quickly on the gridiron field, embarking on a rapid learning curve.

“I remember my first start in high school, I didn’t really know what I was doing. I was literally just running around,” he said.

“They just told me to go get a ball or go get a quarterback and that is what I was doing. But then in college you start understanding the game even more, and in the NFL the concept actually changes because now you’ve got to understand the whole game, the whole field. You’ve got to see everything,” he said.

After impressing with the Auburn Tigers in college football, he was drafted in the sixth round in 2020 by Sunday’s opponents Philadelphia and spent time on their practice team before moving to the Chiefs where he has featured in 17 games this season.

The wave of Nigerian talent into the NFL has largely come from the initiative of the players themselves but the league is now looking to tap further into the continent’s talent pool and in June held a development event in Ghana.

The camp was part of the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program, which seeks to find foreign talent and help them find clubs and opportunities in the league.

Players of Nigerian heritage, such as former New York Giants Super Bowl-winner Osi Umenyiora, have been engaged in the process and Wanogho is convinced the approach will prove fruitful.

“We’ve got good athletes over there, so why not? Why not open that new opportunity for the next generation or the next kids? I feel like they’ve got a lot of talent over there, so why not explore that?” he said.

In the meantime, Wanogho is busy responding to messages of support arriving from his homeland ahead of Sunday’s game.

“Football is like a new sport over there in Nigeria right now and it’s developing fast, everybody is interested,” he said.

“I really want to try to give back there some day too and just try to teach kids the game back there. Who knows?”

AFP

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