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Burnley’s Ali Koiki, “I’ll Make My Own Luck!”

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It just seems that the older I get the younger the football players become. Football banter between friends is a huge part of being a football supporter, but when you add being able to meet the guys who play the game professionally into the mix, even grown men behave like a kid let loose in the toy shop.

So, it was a buzz to meet 19-year-old Ali Koiki more so because he isn’t an established professional as of yet. He is a young footballer bursting at the seams to break into the senior squad and make a name for himself.

No. Growing up I was always a small winger with rapid acceleration, but I have definitely always played out wide.

Credit to my school football teacher along with others who told me that I’d go further at Left Back than Left wing and so far, it has worked. I still have a lot of my winger traits, so I haven’t lost any and I still play there if needs be.

Best moment on a football pitch?

Making my football league Debut on loan at Swindon town, it felt surreal and I didn’t really believe that I was actually going to come on so soon because the manager told me that he’d leave me on the bench since I had only trained with the team once, but what a moment it is something that I will cherish forever.

Is there one regret you need to put right?

I don’t have any regrets I believe that life is a journey full of mistakes and learning curves and you have to through the lows to really enjoy the highs of life.

Hardest opponent?

Aaron Lennon. I always looked up to him growing up so it’s the craziest feeling being a teammate of his. Even at his age now he still has that unbelievable sharpness and he is more often my direct opponent in training so definitely him.

Least favourite away ground?

I haven’t played at too many grounds so none so far.

Funniest thing you have seen in a dressing room?

Somebody wore a very questionable pair of shoes into training so one of the lads wrapped them up in tape and hung them off the ceiling while we were training. We got back in and the look on his face was priceless. Good banter.

What’s your guilty food pleasure?

Pounded Yam, a Nigerian dish that will probably put you to sleep if you have too much but very tasty.

Boyhood sporting hero?

Didier Drogba and Ronaldinho. Growing was a Chelsea fan watching Drogba play was so exciting. He had it all as a character on and off the pitch and I could always count on him to produce in the big moments! Ronaldinho just made football look so easy and brought a smile to the world with his feet. Easy choice.

If you had the power, what one thing would you change about the game?

If I was to say anything it would have been VAR but it has now come into the game but I would have loved to see it 10 years ago in the Champions League semi-final match between Chelsea and Barcelona because it would have saved me a lot of tears.

Most embarrassing moment in football?

I haven’t got one stand out moment so far to be honest

Which player in history would you like to play alongside?

Easy choice because he was my sporting hero, Didier Drogba. He was such a presence and integral part of everything I watched growing up and an absolute soldier, so I’d definitely pick him t

And Sustain would like to say a special thank you to Pauline Spry for the introduction.