Wilfred Ndidi: Why Leicester City move was very scary for me
After three seasons at Belgian top-flight side Genk, the Nigeria international joined the Foxes in a transfer deal worth £17 million.
At that time, the King Power Stadium giants were reigning English champions, plus they needed a replacement for N’Golo Kante who had joined Chelsea on a five-year deal.
The Frenchman played a starring role in Leicester’s English top-flight-winning campaign where he made 40 appearances while helping France reach the final of Euro 2016.
Despite adapting to life quickly at the Luminus Arena after his move from Nigeria’s Nath Boys Academy, Ndidi said he saw an opportunity to ‘develop’, thus, embraced the burden of expectations.
“The pressure I got was that they just won the league, [N’Golo] Kante left and they were looking for a replacement. Seeing this whole situation, it was very scary for me,” the 23-year-old told Out of Home Podcast.
“I was comfortable at Genk but it was like an opportunity for me to actually develop in my career. It was the right time for me to go because the club [Genk] wanted me to progress in my career.
“It was difficult at that time because I had to leave for another country and start afresh. Even during training, everyone wanted to see what I can do because the person who just left actually made a mark. So, the pressure was just there.
“But, I encouraged myself to be myself and not trying to fill in anybody’s shoes. All I wanted to do was make a mark for myself which is so possible; and after playing the first two games, I got comfortable.”
For Ndidi, playing in the Premier League, though, presented a different kind of spotlight but that came with its own challenges which were different from life in his Belgian elite division outfit.
“The first challenge was the weather,” he continued.
“When I went to Belgium, I was thinking it was the coldest in the world, but when I came to the UK, I realized Belgium was still learning. I am used to this now because the thing is just adaptation. “The food wasn’t that bad in Belgium but it’s okay in the United Kingdom because we have African shops and you can cook everything you want.”
Ndidi has become the fans’ favourite at Leicester thanks to his notable performances for the club. Aside from being named as team’s Young Player of the Year in two successive seasons, he joins Gordon Banks and Jamie Vardy in Leicester City’s hallowed ranks of 22 players who have featured at the Fifa World Cup, while playing for the Foxes.