Lateef Omidiji Jr is a Feyenoord Academy wonderkid who looks set for the top.
Liked with a move to Arsenal, Omidiji made the move to Rotterdam giants Feyenoord in 2017.
Born in Las Vegas but eligible for the Netherlands and Nigeria, the young forward is always looking to improve and models his game on great forwards of the past and present.
His desire to reach the very top shows in his answers to the questions below.
What are your strengths?
My strengths my technical abilities, speed (both physical speed and mental speed on the field) and versatility as I can play centrally as a striker or the left wing like one of my favourite players Neymar, on the right like another favourite on mine Bale or Walcott.
I can also play as a false nine like the greatest player of this generation Messi.
When I play on the left wing and try to emulate Eden Hazard. On the wings, I have more space to beat the opposition either via dribbling or with my pace.
Another strength is that I am fearless on the pitch, I take shots that others might not see and I love to score.
Because I’m a striker, I know how to create as well because I know how I love the ball so I know how to use it.
What are your weaknesses?
My biggest weakness is that I am my biggest critic.
I spend a lot of time looking for areas I can improve and spend a lot of time with myself or my older sister and younger brother on soccer fields working on and adding new tools to my arsenal.
I’m never satisfied – I want to be the best player in the world someday.
Another weakness is that I can improve all areas. I’m a youth player, I’m a developing player, even professionals can improve so I consider every area of my game a weakness because I want to be better at what I’m good at and get good at what I’m currently not great at.
Career highlight so far?
Scoring against Anderlecht’s U14s in a tournament in Belgium that my team wasn’t suppose to have any chance against that features a lot of boys in the Belgium National team. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Mfyq3wpbks
Another is a left footer against QPR’s U14s in a tournament 3 minutes into the game- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bfqt50Z2KO8
I love the big games, love the big moments, games that I’m not supposed to do well, opposition that are supposed to be too insurmountable, those are the moments I love…. When I play teams and defenders that are supposed to “stop me”.
I have other highlights but those two come to mind and know my best highlights are ahead of me as I get better.
Who are your football heroes?
I love the old school players, those are the ones my dad would sit us down and go now if you could do that (laughs). Players like Ronaldo from Brazil, Pele (saw the movie and admired him even more for what he had to overcome), Roberto Baggio, Ronaldinho and for current players of course Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
A player not many mention and I love is Zlatan – if not for Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, he would be known as the best in the world. I love his confidence, many who don’t analyse his game thinks as a striker he’s just a big guy, air balls but he is actually very technical, one of the best pure strikers ever.
I also love Neymar (he’s not a big player, but his game is big), easily the best left winger in the game. Walcott, Bale on the left, Suarez….. Another pure striker, those are the players I watch and try to emulate, learn from, watch what they do on Saturday or Sunday and spend the week trying to master it.
Best advice received? (From who)?
The best advice I’ve received is from my parent and grandparents, they tell me – it’s ok to have bad days, bad games, bad moments in games, it’s how I respond that matters and what I learn from it so I don’t play with any pressure.
I know my capabilities, I’m confident in myself and get amnesia when I miss or have a bad moment because I have to be mentally prepared for the next opportunity.
I spend a lot of time analysing my game, watching tapes, asking myself what I can or could have done better with every touch of the ball or how I could have helped the team more.
I’m never satisfied, even in a game where I get hat-ricks, I still think about the bad touch or the bad moment and want to know what I could have done better because in some games, you may have only that one chance and I want to make sure that the next time I get that opportunity, that I’m ready for it.
Best player you’ve played against?
As a striker, your biggest test is the defence and midfield of the other team and I’ve come across a lot of great players over the years but what I do during the game is figure out what they’re doing against me or trying to do against me and I figure out a way to outsmart the defenders.
Don’t know his name but there was a defender at PSG that I played against once that was really good….intercepting balls meant for me, staying on me without staying on me but I eventually figured it out and burned them for two goals but after the game, I shook his hand and told him you’re really good, you gave me things to think about and was a good learning experience.
Best player you’ve played with?
His name is Randy Castellanos from Las Vegas and he’s a goalkeeper.
He plays for Las Vegas Premier Academy in Las Vegas and is one of the best goalkeepers I’ve ever seen both training against him and in opposition, he has great reflexes, commands defences and is one of the best I’ve ever played with.
I play a bit like?
I play a bit like some of my favourite players (Neymar, Sterling, Aguero, Zlatan, Sanchez, Bale, Messi, Suarez).
I watch and take from all these players because I’m still developing, I watch their off the ball movement, technique, passing and confidence.
I also like Alli at Spurs and Rashford at United, I borrow from all those players.
Who is your best friend in football?
My entire team at Feyenoord are my best friends. We are a unit, will all be closer as the season starts – we will be even closer.
In five years’ time I’ll be…….
In five years’ time I’ll be playing first team football and helping my team win the league and getting ready to play in the Champions League.
I’ll have played at a U17 World Cup and hope be contending for a spot on a senior national team. Those are my aspirations.
Football-Wonderkids will be keeping a close I on Lateef Omidiji Jr over the next few years.