Carolina Panthers News & NFL News
Efe Obada has gone through a lot despite being just 27-years-old. But, he would have been forgiven for thinking that he had reached the pinnacle of his career this weekend when he takes to the turf in his hometown of London.
Obada was born in Nigeria, before being trafficked from the Netherlands to England aged just ten. He was forced to live on the street of the British capital with his older sister due to his family not being able to give him money to live anywhere.
He was in and out of foster homes before American football came around and changed his life for the better.
Obada would look back at these times at ‘tough’, but he admits that it has probably shaped the entirety of his life and made him hungry to reach the levels that he never thought to be possible.
The 27-year-old doesn’t open up about his story very often, but it especially significant in this day and age. He reached the NFL through the International Player Pathway Programme which was established by the NFL.
He became an instant hit through this programme and was signed by the Panthers, before becoming the first player to go through this programme to make a professional roster.
“It’s beyond Hollywood,” said Vernon Kay, one of Obada’s teammates in 2014 with the London Warriors. “It’s beyond anything anybody can imagine.
“No disrespect, this is better than ‘The Blind Side.’ To me, this is the ultimate football story.”
And Kay does have a point. It isn’t just a sporting story that can be told by the Londoner, but also one that has overcome the odds to create a livelihood on the field.
Only six years ago, he walked onto a football field for the first time, and couldn’t have believed that half of the stuff that he has achieved would happen to him.
He claims that he ‘goes hard every time’, because if he doesn’t get signed up to another defeat, then he would move back to London again.
It is the perfect rags to riches story, and this weekend in front of his home fans, he will have the perfect opportunity to showcase what he can do.
Back in 2014, 22-year-old Obada was befriended by a man he met near his home on the streets of South London. His name was Josh.
“I don’t remember his last name,” Obada said. “He had his pads. He asked if I wanted to come with him to practice. I was lucky enough that I had nothing to do that day. Imagine what would have happened if I didn’t follow him?”
Obada was about 20 pounds lighter then. With absolutely no knowledge of American football, he was given his first set of pads.
“The first thing that struck me was his speed,” said Simon Buckett, then the Warriors’ special-teams and defensive backs coach. “I’d never seen anybody that size run that fast in football.”
He impressed that much that Warrior defensive co-ordinator Aden Durde recommended him to the Dallas Cowboys. He was signed after five matches and was reversed from a tight end to a defensive end. He would eventually leave Dallas for Kansas City and Atlanta, before landing at Carolina in 2017.
Obada concluded: “Football gave me a purpose. It gave me a mission. That helped surrounding myself with people that play football give me goals versus finding that sense of belonging elsewhere.”
The Sunday night game between the Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be an emotional evening for Obada, But, his Panthers side will go into the game in good form and will be the favourites to get the win.