Onyinye Wilfred Ndidi is a Nigerian international footballer who plays as a defensive midfielder for the national team and for Leicester City, an English Premier League (EPL) club. Since he started playing regular footballer, Ndidi has become an integral part of his club and country’s teams.
There are many interesting unknown facts about Wilfred Ndidi that you will discover reading this biography. But before we continue, below, you will find a summary of those facts.
10 important facts about Wilfred Ndidi
- He was born as Onyinye Wilfred Ndidi on 16th December 1996 in Lagos State, Nigeria.
- Ndidi’s father is active in the military service and the family lived in the army barracks during his childhood. Also, his father was a strict disciplinarian and he directed Ndidi not to play football.
- It was not until he was called to represent Nigeria at the African U-17 Championship in 2013 that his father came to know that he was already a footballer.
- Ndidi did not play any part in the competition after an MRI test conducted by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) found that he and two other teammates were above the age limit.
- The first time he played for Nigeria was at the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand.
- Wilfred Ndidi only played one competitive game for Nath Boys Academy (his childhood club) before a Genk scout found him and took him to Belgium for trials.
- A Belgian couple named Theo and Marleen van Vlierden adopted and took care of Ndidi when he arrived in the country.
- Wilfred Ndidi made his Leicester City debut on 7th January 2017 in an English FA Cup match against Everton, he was to be N’golo Kante’s replacement.
- At the 2018 World Cup in Russia, he played every single game for Nigeria in the tournament.
- Ndidi got married on 23rd May 2019 to his longtime girlfriend, Dinma Fortune, in Abuja, Nigeria.
Wilfred Ndidi Biography: Early Life
Ndidi was born in Lagos on 16th December 1996 and his full name is Onyinye Wilfred Ndidi. He was his parent’s’ first child and only son. After him, his parents had two more children, both female. Ndidi’s father is a military man, who is still in active service while his mother is a trader.
At birth, his family lived at the Military Cantonment in Ikeja, the capital of Africa’s most populous city, Lagos State. Growing up among other military families, Ndidi likely got the chance to play with children his age group, thus, exposing him to football early in life.
He started primary school at Command Children School in Sabo Yaba, Lagos State. This was another place that built his early love for football. He participated in playing with schoolmates and must have found that he could become something of a professional if he kept playing football regularly.
However, there was one major challenge that Ndidi faced. His father never wanted him to play football professionally. This may have been caused by the fact that as a military man, he was very practical. Ndidi revealed in an interview with the BBC that his father was strict and valued discipline and education.
So, he had to play football behind his father’s back. He says:
“Any time my dad went to work I would go and play. I would then get the signal that he was coming and go back to what I was doing, so he didn’t know I’d been playing. I got caught several times but was still going. I love football. I just want to play.”
He also adds that they could not buy proper balls and they started made theirs by wrapping “sheets of papers up and using Sellotape to turn it into a ball”. They played on the roads using two tyres as goalposts because the bigger guys used the only available football pitch. Not long after, he joined a professional youth team in the army barracks.
Ndidi joins Nath Boys Academy
Since his father’s job required him to move around regularly, he was rarely home. Thus, Ndidi had no real opposition at home when he joined his first professional football academy. He said that at this time, schooling was no longer on his mind “because he trusted [his] abilities”.
Originally, when he joined Nath Boys Academy, he played as a striker. He had a lanky figure and was always going head-to-head with bigger and stronger players during training. Nduka Ugbade had been coaching the team back then.
According to a sports journalist Oluwashina Okeleji, “Ugbade is one of the biggest names in African football. His opinion is respected and if he speaks to you, you listen. There is no limit with him. No excuses. He is a hard trainer but will not stretch you beyond your ability.”
Likely, his strict training regime built the toughness that Ndidi displays even today. The youngster’s opportunity came when there was a youth club tournament in Nigeria. International scouts were in attendance and all the young Ndidi needed was just one game.
He tells the BBC in an interview that he had just provided an assist to a teammate. “That was the only game I played”, he says. This was enough for Roland Janssen who was a scout for the Belgian club, Genk.
Wilfred Ndidi Biography: Club Career
By this time, his father already knew he was playing football professionally. See the international career section to find out what major event led to this discovery. Since this was different from the somewhat disorganised street football that he had frowned upon, he gave his son his blessing to travel to Belgium and join Genk.
Ndidi arrived in Genk during the 2014/2015 season and had to undergo trials at the club. He made his debut in the Belgian Pro League on 31st January 2015, playing for 74 minutes before being subbed. He went on to make only six appearances that season. He said that the coach at the time, Alex McLeish, put him on the right-back and left-back positions. Playing in those roles was unnatural to him and he failed to make any major impact.
Then, Genk’s managerial seat changed hands and the new coach put him in the midfield. He confesses that it had felt so strange that he was removed within 32 minutes. After that first match, he was able to settle into a rhythm. Here is how he describes it tot he BBC:
“Take the ball, look around, pass, take the ball, look around, pass.”
This likely impressed the coach as Ndidi played a total of 41 matches for Genk in that second season in all competitions. He also managed to grab four Belgian Pro League goals throughout the 2015/2016 campaign.
There was a report that claimed that when Ndidi had first moved to Belgium, he was under the care of a Belgian couple, Theo van Vlierden and his wife, Marleen. They treated him like a son.
The next season, 2016/2017 he was promoted to the first team and played in the Belgian First Division A. Before the season was over, he had played 32 total games, scored three goals and landed himself a contract with English Premier League club Leicester City.
Marleen had allegedly shed tears when Ndidi left for England.
With his impressive form, Leicester City agreed a £17 million deal with Genk. The English club had just won the English Premier League title at the just concluded season and they were looking to replace N’golo Kante, an important player of the club who had just departed for Chelsea.
Wilfred Ndidi had big shoes to fill when he joined Leicester. The person he was taking over from, Kante, had been nominated as part of the PFA Team of the Year 2015/2016.
If he felt any of those pressures, Ndidi never showed it. He took on his role as a defensive midfielder for Leicester City when he debuted on 7th January 2017 in an English FA Cup match against Everton.
Ndidi’s first English Premier League game was against Chelsea. Going against Kante who he was taking over from, it ended in a 3-0 defeat against Leicester City. His first goal for Leicester City came from a long-range shot in the first round of extra time against Derby County on 8th February 2017 in the English FA Cup.
He further impressed experts and spectators alike in his club’s 3-1 win over Liverpool on 27th February 2017. Ndidi had made 14 tackles in the fixture and won 11 of them. It quickly drew praises and many compared him to N’golo Kante who was the only player in the competition that bettered that record.
He was sent off for the first time in his career on 16th December 2017 in a clash against Crystal Palace and Leicester went on to lose 3-0. Ndidi was awarded Leicester City’s young player of the year that season, according to Goal.com.
After joining Nath Boys Academy (also called Nathaniel Boys of Lagos), Ndidi got a chance to represent Nigeria in the African U-17 Championship in 2013. It was at this time that his father found out that he had continued pursuing his football dream up to the level of becoming a professional. His father agreed that he should travel with the national team.
However, Ndidi would not play any part in the competition following age controversies. According to an article on Legit’s website, he and two other teammates were found to be slightly over the age permitted after an MRI test was conducted by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
The other two players were Ibrahim Abdullahi (Sardauna Academy, Kano) and Emmanuel Asadu (Amuneke Academy). To be on the safe side, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) excluded them from participating in any part of the competition in Morocco.
In 2014, he joined the U-20 team and represented Nigeria at the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand. Germany knocked Nigeria out in the first round of the knock-out stages.
Wilfred Ndidi was called to join the Nigeria national football team in October 2015. He made his debut for Nigeria on 8th October 2015 in a 2-0 loss to DR Congo. In 2016, he was selected as part of the 35-man provisional squad to represent Nigeria at the 2016 Summer Olympics but he did not make the final list.
Ndidi was part of the Nigerian squad to the 2018 World Cup in Russia and he played every single game the country featured in. He also went to the African Cup of Nations in 2019 and played in Nigeria’s first match against Burundi.
Wilfred Ndidi Biography: Playing style, recognition and praises
He plays in the traditional defensive midfielder role for both Nigeria and Leicester City. While he ventures forward sometimes — like for corners because of his aerial prowess — he is more than likely to be found in front of defenders.
One of his most pronounced abilities is his ability to read the opponents’ attack and make well-timed tackles and interceptions. He keeps it simple by following a simple pattern; tackle and pass the ball. Not long after finding his way to Leicester, he has become a key player and only misses games either because he is injured, rested or suspended.
Currently, many count him among the top 10 defensive midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues. In the English Premier League, he is in contention for the top three spots as well. According to a recent BBC ranking of the EPL top tackles, Ndidi was at number one with 86 tackles (with 21 more than Joao Moutinho in second place).
James Maddison, his teammate at Leicester, once said in an interview:
“Kante is a brilliant player but actually winning the ball back and taking the ball off the opposition I don’t think there is anyone better than Wilfred.”
Wilfred Ndidi Biography: Personal life
On 23rd May 2019, Wilfred Ndidi married his longtime girlfriend, Dinma Fortune. They had the traditional marriage ceremony in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. Lots of important people showed up to celebrate with the couple. Nigeria football legend, Kanu Nwankwo was there as well as Ndidi’s country and club teammate, Kelechi Iheanacho.
For more on this, see: See photos from Super Eagles’ Ndidi Wilfred and fiancee traditional marriage
Also, to pick up from where he left off in terms of education, Ndidi has returned to school. According to his Wikipedia page, he enrolled at De Montfort University, Leicester, England and is studying Business and Management.
Currently, he resides in England with his wife and they do not have any children yet.
Wilfred Ndidi net worth and lifestyle
The professional football player is an important team member at Leicester City and he earns a weekly wage of £75,000 (NGN35.7 million). While a footballer’s salary is their major source of income, they also engage in other money-making ventures, such as commercial advertisements.
Ndidi models for Nike and he is a brand ambassador of the company, wearing their clothes and playing with their boots. Undoubtedly, he earns money from his deal with them. Unfortunately, we were unable to find out how much the deal is worth. He also reportedly had such a deal with Coca-Cola in 2017 but it is not clear if it is still ongoing or not.
As regards the net worth of Wilfred Ndidi in 2020, we could not find any information from trusted websites. The figures we found were speculative and gave outrageous ranges.
When it comes to his lifestyle, we did not find flamboyant displays when we researched about Ndidi. In fact, we did not see a picture of what car he drove around in when he is in England. PUNCH reported that he had bought a brand new Mercedes-Benz G-Class ( sometimes called G-Wagen or G-Wagon) for his wife when she celebrated her birthday in 2019.
Final Thoughts …
Wilfred Ndidi came from a military household where his father had opposed his football ambition. He somehow managed to keep going with dogged determination and steadily, he has risen to the top of the game. Players in his position rarely get talked about but it is impossible not to see the impact he has on the game.
His father has come to terms with the fact that he cannot stop the determined young man, but Ndidi himself met him halfway by also enrolling in a University to continue his education. The bullish midfielder still has many years ahead of him, and if he maintains this path, he may soon find his name among some of the game’s greatest.
Additional Wilfred Ndidi Information
Genk – 7 goals in 83 appearances
Leicester City – 8 goals in 130 appearances
Nigeria – 0 goals in 36 appearances
Honours and awards
2017 – Leicester City Young Player of the Year award
2019 – Bronze medalist at AFCON 2019
2019 – The Ballers Awards (Best Nigerian Footballer)