Nigeria has long been a conveyor belt of some of Africa’s finest footballing talent, and Sparta Rotterdam’s 21 year-old defender Dele Adeleye looks to be yet another addition to the country’s long line of gifted players. A tall, commanding centre-half, Adeleye, as a part of what is a prodigious new generation of Nigerian footballers, could well be the natural successor to Joseph Yobo in the national team.

Having begun his career with the Ibadan-based Nigerian Premier League outfit Shooting Stars F.C., Adeleye caught the eye of several European clubs when playing for the Nigeria U20 team which was narrowly defeated in the final of the 2005 World Youth Championship by a Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina. Sparta Rotterdam eventually managed to secure the defender’s signature in 2006, with Adeleye joining the Dutch side in time to begin the 2007 Eredivisie season. The player has since gone on to make 66 league appearances, chipping in with three goals for Sparta and, despite question marks remaining over his temperament, has attracted interest from a number of “bigger” European clubs.

With Sparta currently embroiled in the Eredivisie relegation play-offs, Adeleye could well be looking to further his career elsewhere in order to add to the four international caps his fledgling international career has already brought him. With the imposing defender having been included in Lars Lagerback’s provisional 30-man Nigeria squad ahead of the World Cup, Adeleye will be desperate for a chance to prove himself at the very highest level and perhaps make one of the rumoured moves to Everton, West Ham or Fulham a reality.