Femi Ilesanmi Interview

Femi Ilesanmi Interview

From starting out as a striker, banging in goals, how does it feel to switch positions and change your game to pursue a career in football? We spoke to York City defender, Femi, to talk all things football and learn more about his career in the beautiful game...

Femi llesanmi
The best performance I’ve seen was when we played Southampton. Adam Lallana ran the show, both footed Cruyff turns, diags, it was ridiculous.

What was it like, growing up in the UK, playing football?

For me, there was limited resources, if I’m honest. I used to play in a cage, on concrete, with a few mates and that but in terms of getting into a football team opportunities were limited, which is why I got into football at quite a late age. The first team I signed for was a Saturday league team, at age 12. I managed to find a way though and thankfully I’m playing now so that’s the most important thing.

Have the opportunities improved would you say?

I think it’s improved now. You see a lot of kids from deprived areas coming out, playing football and making something of themselves. That’s because the best things come from the worst places, you know what I mean… There’s more opportunities and people have took it upon themselves to start setting up football academies or setting up little tournaments where players can go and play and get seen. It’s definitely come a long way.

What motivates you to play football?

My family motivates me. My family are a massive motivation, you know… I’ve always wanted to change my families situation. Obviously we grew up in a council estate and from a young age I’ve always seen what my parents have had to go through and I thought I could make an input into helping the situation change. That has driven me up until now. Ofcourse there’s doubters and that’s motivation aswell. That will always motivate me, proving people wrong. What motivates me most is me wanting to leave a legacy and wanting to be remembered. And finally, obviously God motivates me too.

At what moment did you think football could become a career for you?

First of all I started off as a striker and I was playing upfront, at age 12. Then I became a left midfielder and I was playing there a while, then I remember when I was around 14 or so, we went to a tournament and because there was a lot of attackers in my team, they put me in defence. I remember doing so well in that tournament and after that everybody said I should become a left back. At first I wasn’t happy with it, because everyone wants to score goals but obviously I took on board the information that everybody was giving me and it worked out in the end. That was the moment I thought I can try and pursue thing football thing.

So what age did you go to a professional club?

It’s funny because I wrote to clubs and then Southend offered me an open trial, at age 15. Out of hundreds of kids and stuff, we all went and you had to keep going back and going back and then they invited me in to train with the actual youth team. From the hundred kids they only invited like 8 of us and I ended up being the only one that got signed, which was crazy! One of my strengths is 1v1 defending and that’s just come from me growing up in an area where if you get nutmegged you’re a laughing stock or if you got beat, people are laughing at you so I just took that mentality into the game and that’s the reason why I believe I don’t let many man get past me.

How was your first professional debut?

I remember everything like it was yesterday. I remember I was on loan then I got called back to Dagenham who were in league one at the time. I travelled to Southampton away and I was involved. Then the Friday came and we had Oldham on the Saturday. We did a drill, a defending drill and I did really well in the drill. On Friday we always did shape and he read out my name, at left back, so casual and I was just like what the hell! Is this real? I ended up starting the next day and I remember all the emotions and trials and tribulations and it was a very special day. I ended up getting man of the match, doing really well and stayed in the team from there.

What player inspires you?

Rio Ferdinand inspires me. He grew up round the corner from me. I don’t know him personally but for him to grow up near me and become such a massive name in football and be one of the best defenders to ever play, it’s very inspiring. It shows you that no matter where you’re from, you can do it. So yeah, in terms of football, he’s probably my biggest inspiration.

Who’s the best player you’ve ever played with?

Probably Dwight Gayle, who’s in the Premiership now with Crystal Palace. I remember when he first came to Dagenham and Redbridge. Not many people get one over me, in terms of 1v1’s but when I was training with Dwight, when he first came he was just any guy, I don’t know if I took it for granted but he always used to just get a yard away from me and just shoot in the bottom corner. He was my bogey player in training. He was always scoring against me and I just had to accept that he’s a very good player. Then he got into the first team and moved on and progressed in his career, which is no surprise!

What about best player you’ve played against?

The best performance I’ve seen was when we played against Southampton and Adam Lallana just ran the show. It was actually a pleasure to watch him play. Both footed Cruyff turns, diags, it was ridiculous. Also, this season against Jonjo Shelvey and Leon Britton, those guys were different class.

What music do you listen to?

On matchday I’ll start off with a bit of gospel, in the morning. Then on the way to the game or the stadium, I’ll put on a bit of hip hop music. Zone out to the hip hop music. Maybe a bit of Young Thug, Future, a couple of underground artists that people don’t really know. Then when it comes to match time, I listen to aggressive hip hop.

Why did you choose Concave?

Because the opportunity presented itself and I just like the boot! It’s weird because I’m the type of player that just wears any boot, then I got the Magista’s, liked them and as I thought I’m just gonna stick with Magista’s, Concave came around. Straight away I felt comfortable in them, then I trained in them… I trained well in them! I remember we were doing shooting and I was scoring worldies and everyone was saying it’s the Concave boots. I’ll never forget the first day I wore them! From then I was like this boot actually feels good and it fits me, fits the type of player I am and here I am today!

Out of the three boot silo’s at Concave, what made you choose the Quantum + and why?

First and foremost, I’m a defender. The other boots are more for attackers. The Volt and Halo are faster boots and I feel like the Quantum compliments my attributes the most. My physical attributes and stuff so that’s why I chose them.

Are there any tips you’d give to young aspiring footballers?

Hard work beats talent! That saying is something all footballers should take with them to the grave. Where I’m from there’s so many talented footballers. I’m probably not even in the top 10, top 20, like where I’m from but I’ve got this work ethic that’s made me surpass quite a few of the people that have tried to pursue football. It’s all well and good having a talent but if you don’t work hard you’re not going to go anywhere.

Do you see “hard work” being a talent in itself?

I get what you’re trying to say but I think anyone can work hard. I know what you mean because there’s quite a lot of laid back people and people that want to rely on their ability. Plus is working hard was so easy, everybody would do it. So obviously it’s not easy but I believe everybody has it in them to work hard.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

I see myself in the Premiership. I’m gonna do all I can and I’m not gonna stop, until it’s over basically. I want to take this football thing as far as possible and I’m really determined to do that. God willing, if I get the opportunity to go there, then yeah, that’s where I see myself. If you reach for the moon, you’ll get to the stars!

Writen by Concave @ 28/06/2016 03:35

  • Femi ilesanmi
  • Interview
  • Quantum + White/Black
  • Concave Athlete