Recently, Nigerian national and young Liverpool forward Taiwo Awoniyi was asked about some of his goals for the future. Awoniyi is currently on loan to FSV Frankfurt of the German second division, but he reiterated his desire to make it in the EPL, and to get a shot for Jurgen Klopp’s first team. However, the young star also spoke about his desire to be a university graduate. That notion is consistent with a theme of education in the EPL this year, most notably with regard to West Ham standout Reece Oxford. Awoniyi has made it clear that football is his main goal, and many expect him to get a chance with Liverpool in the near future. Even so, he’d love the chance to become a graduate as well.
Part of the foundation for this desire appears to be the fact that ex-Cardiff player Seyi Olofinjana is one of Awoniyi’s biggest influences, and is well known to have prioritise his own education despite his pursuit of a career in football. Cardiff supporters will remember Olofinjana as a very handy loan from Hull City who played for Cardiff during the 2010-2011 Championship campaign. The talented midfielder managed six goals in 39 league appearances and made a strong impact on the creative end of things. Unfortunately, this was his only year with Cardiff, but now that he’s being cited as an influence for another young Nigerian playing in England, it’s fascinating to look back at him.
With regard to Reece Oxford, the aforementioned West Ham youngster furthering a career in education, a liost of EPL’s sharpest mind included a number of interesting names: Iain Bowie, who apparently has a master’s degree of engineering; Frank Lampard, who placed in the top 0.1% of Britain after an IQ test; and current Everton star Romelu Lukaku, who speaks five languages at age 22. It’s actually a pretty interesting lineup of accomplishments for men we perceive as dedicating a hundred percent of their time to sport. But bizarrely, Olofinjana was left off the list, though it could perhaps be because Cardiff wasn’t actually in the EPL when he played there.
Why so bizarre? Well, for those who may have forgotten, Olofinjana has a master’s degree in chemical engineering, and he has also worked toward education in sub sea engineering. Evidently he’s pursued these degrees with an eye toward working on oil rigs when he stops playing football, but whatever the purpose, the execution is certainly impressive. Masters degrees are hard to come by for anybody, let alone someone in the midst of a career as a professional footballer!
He may not make the list of the EPL’s brainiest players ever, but he’s surely one of the brightest to pass through Cardiff—if not, the brightest — and English football leagues in general. And as he nears the end of his career, he’s a fun Cardiff player to look back on.