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Monday, 6 June 2016

Argentine footballers help Nigerian teammate raise funds to visit mother

A Nigerian footballer based in Argentina has had the good fortune of teammates who have pooled funds to buy him a trip home to visit his family after more than five years.

Felix Orode, a midfielder at fourth division side Sportivo Barracas, has lived the life of a journey man. The former Sharks FC player left the shores of his country as a teenager for the promise of European football.
While in Spain, Orode got a call that he was wanted by one of Argentina’s most historic clubs San Lorenzo under manager Diego ‘el Cholo’ Simeone.
It was a move too good to be true which he could not turn down and he made the 10,000km switch with hopes of making it big in South America.
Orode made his debut as a 77th minute substitute in San Lorenzo’s 2-0 away win over Huracan on November 21, 2009. He was thrown in with scores at 1-0 and he created a late assist for Juan Manuel Torres to double their lead.
But that’s as good as it got for the young Nigerian who was sent out on loan the next year to Nueva Chicago and would eventually leave on a free transfer at the end of his two-year contract to CAI in the second division.
Further moves to Excursionistas, Communicaciones and then across the border to Peruvian club Walter Ormeno meant Orode never really settled down professionally.
Through it all, he learnt the Spanish language and married an Argentine woman who gave him a son and a daughter.
By the time Orode returned to Argentina and Sportivo Barracas, it had been more than five years since he last visited Nigeria.
The wages in fourth division of Argentine football are not the best which meant Orode has been struggling to raise his family with not enough funds to travel almost 8000km to Nigeria to see his mother and brothers. A return ticket between Lagos and Buenos Aires goes for at least $1600 (560,000 Naira on the open market).
When his teammates heard about his challenge they decided to help. Word got around the training ground and players and coaches pooled funds over several months in order to help their beloved Felix return to Lagos for a few weeks, with his wife Yasmine, son Salvador and six-month-old daughter Simona.
After writing a heartfelt message to his teammates that was posted on his Twitter account, the incident has since gone viral as Argentine media houses picked up on the inspiring story.

“God willing, when I finish the season I will be traveling. I really cannot believe it. It’s a great joy,” an excited Orode said. “It was a surprise. I never imagined something like this.”
“I’ll give a surprise to my mom who does not know I’m coming. I hope she can recognize me,” said the 25-year-old.
This being the first time the story has been published in English, it’s hoped that we have not spoiled his surprise trip back home.