His name is Efe Obada, and a scant five years ago he’d never played North American Football yet in January 2019 the Carolina Panthers signed him as one of their Defensive Ends in the NFL.
Born in Nigeria on 30 April 1992, aged eight years of age Efe’s family moved to the Netherlands where at the age of 10 he and his sister were separated from their mother and trafficked into England. Abandoned upon arrival, it left the two children homeless on the streets of Hackney in the east of London. Initially sleeping rough, they first found shelter in an office block, then were taken in by a friend of the family, before living with strangers, home hopping between 10 separate foster homes.
He had a tough life growing up, enough so to see three of his friends murdered. Eventually, through a contact of their mother, he managed to find stable employment, working shifts as a security guard at the Welwyn Garden City branch of Grace Foods.
At this stage, Obada for the first time in his life started playing North American Football for the London Warriors in his spare time. At the time, Aden Durde, defensive coordinator for the London Warriors, had spent a summer working as an intern coach with the Dallas Cowboys during 2014.
Based on Durden’s recommendation, Obada received an invitation to join the team for a workout session just days prior to their upcoming clash with the Jacksonville Jaguars in London. Despite his rawness and lack of experience, the Dallas Cowboys signed him on 1 April 2015 as an undrafted free agent.
In rookie minicamp, they waived him on 5 September, but on 23 September they signed him up to the practice squad of the Dallas Cowboys. On 9 March 2016 the Kansas City Chiefs signed him and on 28 July 2016, the Atlanta Falcons signed him. Finally, on 25 May 2017, Obada signed up with the Carolina Panthers via the International Player Pathway program instituted by the new NFL which guaranteed him a team position.
He made an explosive debut for the Panthers which was good enough to see his extraordinary gameplay recognized by him receiving the game ball in the locker room after the match. Leading international online sportsbooks such as William Hill as well as punters who follow and regularly wager on the NFL’s action-packed matches quickly recognized his potential.
Part of the conditions of the International Player Pathway program made him ineligible for promotion into the 53-man roster during regular season play. However, after making a strong show during the preseason, Obada distinguished himself by becoming the first player from the program to successfully enter a 53-man roster. In his third week, Obada played his first regular season match against Cincinnati’s Bengals, making one intersection and one sack.
Obada’s performance during his first match not only saw him receive the game ball it also had him named NFC Defensive Player of the week, he went on to finish his season having made eight combined tackles with two sacks