The Premier League at that time had been hugely followed in Nigeria for a number of years with almost half of the league enthusiasts being fans of Manchester United.
Mikel Obi’s signing was to be a very significant one for Manchester United in Nigeria as the first Nigerian to ever play for the club.
Considering how most from the Arsenal fan base in Nigeria started supporting the Gunners because of Kanu Nwankwo, the signing of the next-big thing from Nigeria was supposed to make Manchester United more popular in Nigeria.
But that was not to be and what followed was the now infamous story of how Chelsea came in and snagged Mikel.
It’s been more than 10 years and no Nigerian player has still been close to playing for Manchester United.
In Tosin Kehinde however, Nigeria have a new ray of hope of having one of their own donning the famous shirt of the Red Devils.
Kehinde is currently in the youth team of Manchester United and while they have been other Nigerians in the Manchester United reserves. The 19-year-old has shown promise that has made Nigerians to start dreaming.
Born in Lagos and raised in England, Kehinde first started in London with Tottenhambefore he was signed by Manchester United.
It’s still a long road for him before he can get the opportunity to play for Manchester United senior team but the midfielder has set his sights on it.
He made nine starts for the Reserves in 2016/17, with a further 12 substitute appearances, and scored once – in the 5-3 defeat to Derby County in February.
“For me, this season, it’s just about really securing a place in the starting line-up as often as possible and trying to do my best to progress as a player,” Kehinde told Manchester United official website.
“It was a bit up and down,” Kehinde said of last season. “I didn’t start all the games but I was involved a lot. I was involved in the majority of the games so I was happy with that.
“We did finish on quite a good run of results last year and we’re trying to take it into this season. I expect us to do better than last year, especially with the group of players who have come up now from the Under-18s. It gives us a more rounded squad that is better balanced as we were quite short last year.
“Everyone will push each other and raise each other’s games during the season and I think it will pay off for us. I’m looking forward to it.”
Pulse Sports have learnt that the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) know about Kehinde and is closely monitoring his situation at Manchester United.
Two types of football fans in Nigeria are also closely monitoring Kehinde also- the football fans who are looking for the next big thing and the Manchester United supporters who are looking for a Nigerian relatable identity with their beloved club.