Somewhere out there is a new Nwankwo Kanu or a Jay-Jay Okocha, but it is not easy for the thousands of pretenders to become Nigeria’s newest football hero to get a foot on the ladder.
There are hundreds of football academies across the country of 180 million people but few put their star-struck trainees on the road to a contract in Europe.
Each week, more than 400 aspiring heroes aged between six and 18 attend the Barcelona football academy in Lagos, which opened in November.
Football is king in Nigeria, even though the country has again failed to reach the Africa Cup of Nations finals which will be held in Gabon in January.
More than 1,500 youngsters took skills tests in September to get into the Barcelona academy. But the 1,000 euros ($1,000) annual cost was an even bigger hurdle for many.
The parents of Johnson Gbenga, 12, had to borrow money from their family and neighbours in the distant Lagos suburb of Badagry to get a place.
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