Sunday, October 17

How USMNT Dike’s goal machine went from playing Mario Kart to taking on Kante

Daryl Dike is the name on everyone’s lips in the Championship.

The 20-year-old has been a revelation since joining Barnsley on loan from the city of Orlando, with the Yorkshire club now hoping to take advantage of their option to buy the forward at the end of the season permanently.

However, the Tykes are well aware that after six goals in seven games, the United States international has drawn the attention of several Premier League scouts in recent weeks.

It’s remarkable to think, then, that Dike didn’t even play for a professional team 16 months ago.

While studying finance at the University of Virginia, Dike was part of the Virginia Cavaliers. However, after being selected by the Major League Soccer Orlando City team in 2020, he is suddenly the most talked about attacker in the Championship.

“Everything has gone in the blink of an eye,” said Dike. objective. “If you had told me two or three years ago that I would be where I am today, that I would have a national team cap, that I would play for Orlando and Barnsley, I would have laughed at you.

“I would have been like, ‘No way!’ But it’s great. My career is going well. I can feel myself growing as a player. In a short time, my life has completely changed. I feel really blessed.

“I am super happy but, at the same time, I know that I am still not where I want to be. I want to continue climbing new heights. So, I know that my life and my career, and everything around me, will continue to change.”

Dike’s meteoric rise should perhaps not have been a surprise, given his family’s impressive sporting pedigree.

His cousin, former West Ham forward Emmanuel Emenike, previously played for Nigeria, along with Dike’s brother Bright, who played two games for the Super Eagles.

Meanwhile, Dike’s sister Courtney has also represented Nigeria at a senior level, after winning a silver medal at the 2014 U-20 Women’s World Cup.

It won’t come as a surprise to learn, then, that Dike’s parents, who immigrated to the United States before they were born, played a key role in their children’s athletic success.

In fact, Bright jokes: “Whether it’s my game or Daryl’s game, if you hear a woman yelling behind the goal, she’s always our mom! Everyone in our family is happy all the time and pushing each other to the next level. “

In fact, Daryl says the sibling rivalry fueled his will to win.

“That’s one thing about our family: everyone is so competitive,” reveals Daryl, the youngest of Dike’s five children. “Nobody likes to lose, but I’m sure they got used to it when we were playing Mario Party, Nintendo games and things like that.

“We didn’t actually play that many sports at home. It was mostly at school or with our teams. But we still wanted to compete in some way, so what better way than Nintendo and the cards!”

Bright was on the verge of moving to the UK, long before Daryl joined Barnsley in February.

In fact, in 2014, Bright was attracting the interest of Premier League clubs Hull City and QPR, as well as Scottish giants Celtic and Rangers.

However, he suffered a serious knee injury in February of that year that not only ruined his hopes of a transfer, but also cost him a spot on Brazil’s national team for the Nigeria World Cup.

Getty / Target

The entire Dike family now hopes that Daryl will avoid a similar misfortune in his fledgling career. Certainly things couldn’t be much better right now.

As a childhood Chelsea fan who idolized Didier Drogba, Dike couldn’t believe he got a chance to debut against the Blues in an FA Cup fifth-round clash in Oakwell on February 11.

“After seeing these guys on TV, I was like, ‘Wow! I’m warming up next to [Olivier] Giroud! gets excited. “I thought I’d just watch it on TV and now I’m playing next to [N’Golo] Kante and competing for a header with [Kurt] Zouma.

“I was doing these things and it was honestly a dream come true. I’m a Chelsea fan and I loved Drogba when I was younger. He and I played kind of a similar game. I enjoyed watching it.

“Then, [playing against Chelsea] he was crazy, especially after such a short time. It was a blessing for me and a great experience. “

However, the focus now is on trying to help sixth-ranked Barnsley secure promotion to the Premier League.

“I think the team can do it,” he says. “We are doing very well and we have the necessary tools, but we have to keep going.”

“The season is not over, we still have a lot of work to do but it has been a crazy experience for me, to say the least. I can’t even think about how much it impacted me and how crazy it is for my entire life.”

In fact, at the rate he’s going, Dike could soon be the name on everyone’s lips in the Premier League.

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