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Emmanuel Adegboyega wins EFL Young Player of the Month for February

15 March 2024

Club News

Emmanuel Adegboyega wins EFL Young Player of the Month for February

15 March 2024

Walsall defender Emmanuel Adegboyega has been awarded the EFL’s Young Player of the Month accolade for February.

The 20-year-old, who arrived at the Poundland Bescot Stadium in the January transfer window from Norwich City, has played a pivotal part in the Saddlers’ recent form in Sky Bet League Two.

“I’m absolutely delighted,” Adegboyega says. “I was also nominated for Player of the Month and I didn’t get it, but to hear that I got the Young Player of the Month award across the whole of the EFL, I was buzzing.

“It feels a bit scripted, but everything went how I wanted it to go. As a centre-back, scoring three goals – two of which were winners – and keeping clean sheets, it was perfect in a sense. To score on my debut, after coming on at half time, it was a sensational feeling. After the game, I was like, ‘this is not real’.”

He bagged three goals in four league appearances across the month to fire Mat Sadler’s side into Play-Off contention. The youngster got off the mark on his league debut against promotion-pushing Mansfield Town, netting a second-half winner as Walsall embarked on a five-game winning streak.

Adegboyega – who was playing his football in the League of Ireland with Drogheda United last season – went on to score in a 3-0 victory over Morecambe and a 2-1 win against Accrington Stanley.

“Back home, I was never really on the scoresheet, but I’ve always had an eye for goal,” he explains. “I used to be a striker when I was young and then I got pushed back into midfield, but I always liked scoring a couple of goals when I played in midfield.

“It’s good to be amongst the goals and help the team but it’s also good to work on my defensive side and keep clean sheets as well.”

Alongside Walsall boss Sadler – who was up for the divisional Manager of the Month prize – Adegboyega was nominated for the League Two Player of the Month.

And the Irishman has plenty to learn from his new manager, who played for Saddlers across two separate spells in the EFL before hanging up his boots and taking up the permanent position of the Club’s new head coach in the summer.

“He was a defender as well, so in training, he comes to me and gives me tips and tricks that he used in his game that we can apply in our game as well,” Adegboyega notes. “It’s good to hear from someone who has been at the Club and has so much experience. He has over 500 EFL appearances, so it’s always good to pick up things from him as we go along.”

Upon his arrival at Carrow Road in the summer, Adegboyega immediately linked up with Norwich’s Under-21s, impressing in the Premier League 2 before heading out on loan to Walsall – who reignited their interest in the Academy talent – for the remainder of the 2023/24 term.

“Walsall have a connection with my former Club back in Ireland, Drogheda,” he continues. “I’ve always known about that and when Walsall heard I was available for a loan, they got in contact with Norwich and it was an easy decision because I’d spoken previously with the gaffer about a potential move to Walsall before I even moved to Norwich.

“At the time, it was the right move for me to go out on loan in terms of discussions with the first-team at Norwich to go out and get some minutes. There’s so much you can learn on the training ground, as well as just watching from the bench, but once you’re put into it, you either sink or swim and that’s how you learn.

“I knew it would be the right place for me. It feels more like a family, not just a Football Club. Once I joined, I got the feeling that I was going to like it here.”

As it stands, the Saddlers sit in eighth, with a trip to Colchester United coming up this weekend. And with the race for a top-seven finish heating up, the West Midlands Club are aiming to finish the season on a high to be in the mix come the end of the campaign.

“League Two is very frantic – you lose a game and you go back down but if you win a game, you’re in the Play-Off positions, so it’s very up and down,” he adds. “All you can do is focus on your own team and your own performances.

“Our goal is to push as high as we can. At the start, we weren’t picking up many results, then we started getting into our stride. Heading into the business end of the season, it would be good to aim for Play-Offs and promotion. We’re trying to keep pushing and see where we end up at the end of the season.”


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