The year 2024 will remain one of the best in the football career of William Troost-Ekong, the stand-in captain of the Super Eagles of Nigeria. He not only led a team that finished as runner-up in the Africa Cup of Nations in Cote D’ Ivoire in January but emerged as the Player of the Tournament and also made the Team of the Tournament.

At his club, PAOK Salonica in Greece, Ekong won the Greek Super League title in May, his first major honor at club level.

VERIFIED: Nigerians can now earn US Dollars with premium domains just like Americans, acquire for as low as $1200 and you profit $19000 (₦23million). Click here to start.

On the 2nd of June, just a few days after the successful outing with his club, Ekong, born in Haarlem, Netherlands to a Dutch mother and a Nigerian father from Etinan in Akwa Ibom State, launched the Troost-Ekong Foundation with a charity football game at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo.

The game featured Nigerian stars like Sabinus, Odumodublvk, Joseph Yobo, Pocolee, Benjamin Tanimu, Kelechi Iheanacho, Wilfred Ndidi, Vincent Enyeama, Samson Siasia, Ebuka Obi-Uchendu among others.

Beyond the thrills and frills, the Troost-Ekong Foundation which in the short term will build schools and orphanages in local communities in Akwa Ibom, and in the long term, sports facility for football talents in the state to be nurtured and groomed is a laudable initiative that will impact so many lives.

Though not raised here, Ekong has recognized that there is no place like home and like we say in football, “Home is better.” Since making his national team debut in 2016, the central defender has never hidden his love and respect for Akwa Ibom, the culture and the people.

This was rightly reciprocated by the people in the rousing welcome he received from the Victor Attah International Airport to all the places (including orphanage homes) he visited and the charity game at the stadium. He remembered his people and his people honoured him.

Just like Nigeria, football has the greatest number of fans in Akwa Ibom compare to other sports, and has produced some very renowned players who have represented Nigeria at different levels. Notable among them is Etim Esin, one of the most gifted players in Nigeria’s football history, an attacking midfielder nicknamed “Maradona”, by legendary Nigerian radio commentator late Ernest Okonkwo.

Friday Ekpo, regarded as one of the best in his position, commanded Nigeria’s midfield from 1989 to 1993 and made a name for himself in the national team.

Two-time African Women Footballer of the Year (2006 and 2007), two-time winner of the African Women Championship (2004 and 2006), 2013 top scorer in Naisten Liiga and three-time champions of Naisten Liiga in Finland, Cynthia Uwak fits this roll call.

Goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama who made 101 appearances for the Super Eagles of Nigeria is popularly regarded as one of the greatest African goalkeepers of all time and the greatest of his era. He won the 2013 AFCON title, two CAF Champions League titles, three Nigerian league titles, two Israeli league titles and so many other team and individual awards.

These are just few among the many footballers from Akwa Ibom who have represented the country at different times, and always leaving behind significant marks worthy of reference.

Today, we are referencing the past in the present, where William Troost-Ekong is building a foundation to discover and raise football talents for the future. Certainly, this foundation will provide a platform for talented kids to leverage and grow to become super stars through proper engagement.

Ekong’s desire is to see many more Akwa Ibomites play for the Super Eagles of Nigeria, and in a year that he witnessed great success in his career, he has brought something great to the land of his father. Indeed, the Troost-Ekong Foundation is a big win for Akwa Ibom.