Made in Nigeria: Meet the Nigerian Rugby player with big dreams

Meet the gentle giant with big dreams within and outside Rugby.

English-Nigerian Rugby player Maro Itoje is one of the most recognizable players in the sport

The BBC referred to him as one of British sport's most important figures. There's no question that English-Nigerian rugby player Maro Itoje is one of the most recognizable faces in the sport.

Ever since he won the European Rugby player of the year award at just 21 years old in 2016, his stock has been on the rise.

Here are five facts about the man nicknamed 'the pearl':

1). Proudly Nigerian

His full name is Oghenemaro Miles Itoje, with a name like that, you are sure he is Nigerian as they come.

Despite living his whole life in the UK, Maro is still very close to home. He frequently returns to Lagos in his off-season and has been pictured at social events In native Nigerian wears.

Speaking to GQ, Itoje proudly said, "My Nigerian family dresses well, it is a statement. My family wears Western clothing, but also traditional clothing.

I love a caftan but I do not wear one often in London. I have an affinity for it as it is my heritage.

Itoje has also revealed he is very proud of Nigerians in sport even giving a special mention to former WBC Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua.

"To be spoken about in the same breath as someone like AJ is awesome.Nigerians tend to do well, wherever we go. I am very proud of where I come from," Maro said.

2). He is an Arsenal fan

Itoje is a lifelong Arsenal fan. In 2019 during his off season, he was allowed to train with the Arsenal first team and was even pictured in their jersey.

Speaking to SkySports after the training session Itoje said: "I'm an Arsenal fan so it was great that I had the opportunity to go there and train in my off-season."

Maybe Mikel Arteta can convince Maro to replace Rob Holding or Cedric Soares in the Arsenal defence.

3 Top of the class

Maro is the full package- Brawn, beauty and brains too. In 2018, Maro completed a Politics degree from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.

Itoje is currently studying for his Masters Degree and has a vested interest in social justice, equality and inclusivity.

4). Fashion Killa

When you tower at 6ft 5, with a full head of locks and the frame of a peak athlete, it is only a matter of time before the cameras come calling.

Itoje has featured in campaigns for Ralph Lauren, M&S and the Sanderson group, just to name a few.

5). Roc Nation

Sadly, we won't be hearing an Afrobeat or Drill album from Maro anytime soon. Itoje is signed to Roc Nation Sports, a sports management company owned by musician Jay-Z.

Itoje will hope to win more silverware with the English and Irish Lions in the ongoing Six Nations tournament. No matter the outcome, he has 200 million fans cheering for him.

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