Until Karim Adeyemi’s now famous fufu quote hit the headlines in February, not many Nigerians gave him a second thought as a member of their diaspora community. Afterall, the player had chosen Germany over the Nigerian national team and so had become ‘lost’ to them.

But the 21-year-old’s love for his father’s land and culture has since come to the fore after the interview when he scored a spectacular match-winning goal against Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 game for his club side - Borussia Dortmund.
A Delicious FuFu served
That post-match interview went viral as he attributed his speed and athletic prowess to the West African staple meal, fufu, and his genetics passed on by his Nigerian father. Karim’s mother, Alexandra, is Romanian.

Afterwards, videos emerged on social media of Karim eating eba in the most Nigerian of ways; he cut the eba, molded it into a ball, threw it in the air, caught it mid-flight and proceeded to scoop some okra soup before swallowing the bolus. There is nothing more Nigerian.

Karim’s father, Abiodun, was a former footballer himself. He moved to Germany in the late 1990s to try his fortune at professional football, but could not fulfill his dreams. According to a statement by the foundation, he was deemed too old by the time he arrived in Europe. He ended up working middle income jobs to make a living before meeting his wife Alexandra, another immigrant who faced the odds that were stacked against her.

Despite their struggles, they raised Karim with love and supported his football dreams from a young age. Karim was scouted by Bayern Munich as an eight-year-old boy but would be let go for his failure to fit into their system at age ten. His tenacity kept him going, and his father’s support ensured he did not lose his faith in his own abilities after being let go by the German giants.
Young Karim and the Adeyemi family
He was signed up by SpVgg Unterhaching where he developed further and played for four seasons in the Junior Bundesliga. He gained his confidence and became a sought-after talent.

In 2018, Karim moved to Austria to play for the youth team of Red Bull Salzburg and hit a good patch that got him promoted to the senior team, where he won the Austrian Bundesliga thrice and became the top scorer in the 2021-22 season.

This led to his call-up to the German national team and an eventual $33 million transfer to Borussia Dortmund ensued in July 2022. At this point, he had fulfilled his father’s dreams of playing professional football in Germany.
Karim with dad at a function in Austria
Karim Adeyemi unveiled at Borussia Dortmund in 2022
Karim, on his foundation visit in Ibadan
It is not just through fufu that Karim is showing affiliation with his Nigerian heritage. In December 2022, Karim and his father returned to Ibadan, their hometown, where they checked on the progress of the Adeyemi Football Club, an outreach being run by the player’s foundation, the Karim Adeyemi Foundation.

Largely administered by his father, Karim is said to be very keen on ensuring that the young footballers get the best of amenities for their development and hopefully secure professional moves overseas.

Despite Karim’s decision to represent Germany over his father’s country, he is showing that his heart is in the right place by being close to his roots and empowering the young people that look up to him.

To those whose interest in fufu must have spiked after reading this, you must note that fufu is made of fermented cassava and is usually a pounded meal. It is traditionally eaten with the fingers, and a small ball of it can be dipped into an accompanying soup or sauce.

Credit: soccernet.ng