Football kept Bassey on the straight and narrow: ‘Have friends who have strayed from it’

Calvin Bassey has been through a lot to get to where he is today. The Ajax player not only had to work hard to get better, but was confronted daily with the harsh reality of the poor neighborhood in which he grew up. While Bassey eventually managed to become a professional football player, not everyone he grew up with turned out so well.

“I have friends who have gone astray,” Bassey is candid, in an interview with de Volkskrant. The defender explains that these are friendships that came about as naturally as any other friendship. “I didn’t pick them, they were just friends and they were good to me,” said the Nigeria international. The fact that he, unlike many others in his neighborhood, has become both famous and financially successful, gives him a big name in the neighborhood. Both in a positive and negative sense. “It’s difficult,” he admits. His mother, who raised him, now lives in a better part of London, the town where Bassey grew up.

The Ajax player has worked hard not to get on the wrong path. “I was always involved in football,” he says. Yet Bassey also realizes that, despite everything he has left for it, he is one of the lucky ones. ‘Going astray doesn’t happen overnight, but takes place in the subconscious. You want to become a football player. It does not work. You’re going to hang around and meet the wrong people,” Bassey explains the process, which some of his friends went through.

‘A competition gives me life’

For Bassey, however, giving up was not an option for a long time. He lives for the sport. “A competition gives me life and energy,” he says. ‘I started because I loved the sport and could learn the game better and better, knowing that you can’t be good at everything.’ Yet Bassey was also close to stopping. ‘I always said: if I don’t have a chance at a professional career at the age of fifteen, I’ll stop putting everything on football.’ That scenario almost came to pass, but just before Bassey tied the knot, Leicester City reported for him. The reward for his hard work.

Now, eight years later, Bassey is a professional football player and basic player at Ajax. He is busy with football every day and is living his dream in that regard. Yet he also seeks moments away from the sport. For example, he has already been to church with fellow defender Jurriën Timber. In addition, Bassey can also get a lot of satisfaction from being quietly alone at home. “Then I try to let go of football.”

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