This weekend’s Premier League fixtures are dedicated to the No Room For Racism campaign. Ahead of that, Arnaut Danjuma has taken part in a Q&A about life growing up and what the tagline ‘Greatness is everywhere’ means for him. The forward also discussed the benefits of diversity in our society and revealed who was his childhood hero.
Arnaut, this No Room For Racism window is focussed on the tagline 'Greatness is everywhere.’ What do you make of that statement, does it ring true for you?
I think it does. Greatness is established on the back of diversity. It makes the stronger stronger, and the weaker weaker. It's good to learn from every culture.
Obviously, the more diversity in sports, the better you become, you learn from each other and reach higher levels.
If we take you back to your childhood, what is your earliest memory of football and what inspired you to play?
My earliest memory of football. That's a funny one because my mum always used to tell me off for kicking around furniture or anything round and soft enough to kick, basically anything that looked like a football. That's what I remember.
Growing up in Lagos, did you have a local pitch? Where do you play and what did football mean to you then?
Not so much one pitch. Basically, anything that could resemble a pitch, I'd play football on. Every bit of concrete or space, I'd play on there.
Your cobra celebration has some links to where you grew up. Tell us more about that.
It's related to a story from when I was younger. I come from a diverse background. I have a lot of mates who like football from different areas and cultures. We all used to come together to play the sport that we all love so much - football.
Back then, a particular friend of mine who we played with was huge. He was a big guy and had the most quality. We always used to call him the 'Cobra' because of his levels and the way he used to play. My celebration is a reminder of that, my friends are all still around me and help me in any way. For me, it's a reminder to show we have come this far and hopefully, we can go further.
𝐋𝐞𝐭’𝐬 𝐦𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐨𝐝𝐚𝐲 𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐤𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐚 𝐛𝐞𝐚𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐟𝐮𝐥 𝐣𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐲. ☝🏽 pic.twitter.com/FUxReEhTnY— Arnaut Danjuma (@Danjuma) August 30, 2023
With this weekend's theme in mind, back then who were your idols? Who did you want to be?
My idol back then was Ronaldinho. His enthusiasm, the way he used to play football and put smiles on people's faces, I think he was pretty unique. I used to watch every clip of him, and I still do up to this day. He was the one for me.
What's the hardest obstacle you have had to overcome? I know you've said in the past you struggled for a place to live when you were with your mum as a child.
Yes, I probably wouldn't call that tough anymore. Going through it at the time was but the older you get, the more you start to realise that with hardship comes ease. The tougher the upbringing, the better it might be for you in the end.
There are so many lessons, tricks and tips you can learn going through hardship. At the end of hardship, there will be light at the end of the tunnel. Those lessons are crucial for any person to gain.
It's hard for you to admit, but you are a Premier League footballer, playing for Everton. There's greatness in that achievement. What do you put that down to?
Yes, I try to stay humble, but in part, my religion - I am a devoted Muslim. I am also a believer in the hereafter. I wouldn't be who I am without that. On top of that, I try to work hard and give my all in life.
I think overall, I am who I am today because of my past which I alluded to earlier. I truly believe greatness comes on the back of hardship.
What do you think you owe to your mum, for what she did during those hard times when you were younger?
Everything I have achieved up until this point is due to my mum and father. Without parents, or guardians, where did you get clothes, who raised you as a baby, who sheltered you? It's thanks to them whether you like it or not.
For me, I'm lost for words to try and truly explain my gratitude and love for my parents. They mean the world to me, and I am trying to give them the world back.
Finally, what are your dreams and goals going forward?
It's tough to answer. I aim for the highest, but while keeping expectations based on reality.
My immediate dreams, though, are to make sure I am true to Everton and I want to be pivotal in helping Everton achieve the Club's collective goals. Give the fans what they want and show my quality, really prove myself in the Premier League.