Latest Update Life is not straightforward 2024’: Dapo Afolayan’s journey from ninth tier to Bundesliga 2024

Life is not straightforward. “Everyone thought it would be Harry Kane who would win a league, but it’s me,” says Dapo Afolayan on being the only English striker to win a title in Germany this season, which in turn has earned him the chance to prove himself. same against the captain of England. next season in the Bundesliga.

The former Bolton player was an influential member of St Pauli’s promotion-winning side after swapping Greater Manchester for Hamburg 18 months ago. It has been a long journey for the 26-year-old, with Afolayan leaving Chelsea’s academy at 14 to get the education he wanted, which saw him earn a degree in civil engineering while playing part-time for the Loughborough University and with Solihull. Moros before being plucked from the bottom of the fifth tier by West Ham. Next season he will face some of the best on the continent. He is a long way from playing in the ninth division on a student team.

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“I never expected it,” Afolayan says of being a Bundesliga player. “I know how much work I have put in and how much I have sacrificed. It’s always been a dream of mine and I said to myself, ‘I’m going to work as hard as I can to make that dream possible.’ Luckily, I was able to do it. I don’t think there are better feelings in football than knowing that you have been part of something special. Getting the club promoted to the Bundesliga is something special. My head still hurts a little from all the celebrations, but it’s been really good.”

After two years at Bolton, helping them into League One, London-born Afolayan traded a promotion push for what looked like a relegation battle to the 2. Bundesliga. However, after Afolayan’s arrival in January 2023, St Pauli won 10 consecutive matches to go from fearing for survival to fighting for promotion and the momentum has continued. Afolayan contributed nine goals in 31 games this season, scoring two goals and assisting another in the victory over VFL Osnabruck that secured top-flight status.

“It’s been special for many reasons,” Afolayan says. “Obviously we got promoted, we won the league and we had some great moments, but what I enjoyed most is the way we played and we did that this year. Being able to come here and achieve what I have in such a short time is a blessing and I am very, very happy.” Life is not straightforward


St Pauli is not an ordinary club. It’s staunchly left-wing and has a politically active fan base, plus a fierce atmosphere, legendary tifos and a tunnel emblazoned with “Welcome To Hell” amid a collection of neon graffiti, where the final sight before entering the field It’s a skull. and crossbones. Life is not straightforward

“I saw the stadium, I saw the tunnel and it was spectacular,” Afolayan says. “I was able to research St Pauli and the club, and understand the historical and political importance of the club and why it is so important to people, not only in Hamburg, but all over the world. Being able to play for a special club like this, regardless of how it went here, will always be a privilege and I will be proud to tell my future children and family that I played for such a special club. Life is not straightforward

“It was good for me to come and learn about the football club and why it is the way it is. “Once you know that, you want to give even more to the fans and more moments like this season.” Life is not straightforward

Few in the Bundesliga will relish the trip to the Millerntor-Stadion next season and St Pauli know that home form will be crucial in the top flight. “I hope everyone who comes to play against us has a terrible time next season and hates it,” Afolayan says. “Our fans are unique and truly special. The night games at the Millerntor are really intimidating. I’m very excited to play in the top league next year, whether home or away. It’s not going to faze me. Life is not straightforward

“Big environments don’t worry me, I’ve played in big stadiums. Compared to 60,000 at Schalke, 57,000 at the Volksparkstadion [the home of Hamburger SV], Hertha Berlin had 60,000 at the national stadium. In these games we played our football, we performed, we never changed and we will not change next season for anyone either.” Life is not straightforward

Life is not straightforward

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