Derek Rae Profile picture
27 Mar, 29 tweets, 6 min read
1/ For Rangers fans who follow & anyone else genuinely intent on overcoming the scourge of racism, Kicker has done a long and very good Q & A with German born Nigerian international Leon Balogun. He also praises Scott Brown. I’ll translate the most interesting parts here.
2/ If any Scottish journalist friends plan on using any of it, remember this is Kicker‘s work (Mario Krischel) so please give them credit. Translation is all mine.
3/ Kicker: The person behind Rangers’ success is pretty well known, Steven Gerrard. Was he the one who last summer convinced you to move from Brighton to Glasgow?
Balogun: Quite simply, yes.
Kicker: And how exactly?
4/ Balogun: I had been loaned to Wigan & we had 5 or 6 games left to play. My agent said he had 2 offers for me. One of them, he said was unbelievably big.
Kicker: Quite the way to build the tension.
Balogun: Yes, really. I thought, what‘s coming next? What can this be?
5/ Balogun: When he told me, my first reaction was rather subdued. I didn’t really have the club, let alone the Scottish league on my mind. I don’t think I’m offending anyone when I say that it doesn’t rank among the most popular leagues in the world.
6/ Kicker: But clearly you were open to being persuaded
Balogun: My agent told me a few more things and I did research myself. I could play Europa League, train under an absolute legend and quite simply, play for a title. In Mainz or Brighton it was always about just staying up.
7/ Kicker: So what did Gerrard say to you?
Balogun: We had a Zoom call arranged with Gerrard and the sporting director Ross Wilson. I admit I had a bit of a fan moment for the first time & we we were all able to laugh about it. He told me how the assignment looked &
8/ Kicker: about his expectations of me. That I was a perfect fit for the way he wanted to play & that I brought the right attributes, that is athletically, dynamically & in terms of calmness on the ball. That matched his philosophy of shaping the game & high pressing.
9/ *previous answer is Balogun (not Kicker question.)
Balogun continues: Then it was just a matter of me agreeing. He had taken it upon himself to contact me after games, called or sent WhatsApp messages. He gave me the feeling he absolutely wanted me in his team.
10: Kicker: You went straight into the side. What’s it like being in a defence that hardly ever concedes a goal?
Balogun: If we only had one thing to do, say the opponent sent in a cross, we looked at each & other acted as though we were 2-0 down & had almost conceded a 3rd.
11/ Balogun: Clearly you develop a certain confidence and from that even get some luck within game but we never rested. It definitely filled everyone with pride.
Kicker: Just recently things went wrong in the Europa League. Did you feel against Prague it could have been better?
12/ Balogun: Prague definitely gave us that feeling. I’ve seen a video where they cheered watching the draw for the round of 16 when they saw our name. That wasn’t how we saw it. Doable task? Yes, but hard. A team that best Leverkusen in the group phase & KOed Leicester....
13/ Balogun: a team like that must be taken 100% seriously. When you look back at the 2 games, probably the better team won. You have to be honest about that.
Kicker: After an hour, your teammate Kemar Roofe saw red. Then you received a 2nd yellow.
14/ Kicker: But the game was overshadowed by a racism scandal. Slavia‘s Ondrej Kudela is said to have insulted Glen Kamara.
Balogun: At that stage I was already in the dressing room but I watched it & later Kemar told me everything. What can you say?
15/ Balogun: I wasn‘t personally affected but it could just as easily have been me. Then Kemar gets abusive treatment on social media. That’s the kind of thing that just makes you angry. You look at the incident and see that this guy is running from 30 metres away...
16/ Balogun: and seeking out the player. People should know Glen is a totally quiet and laid back player, one who always shoes away from conflict. He had tried to laugh off the situation as he has already been verbally attacked several times. To then have to watch as the guy
17/ Balogun: covers his mouth & deliberately whispers into Glen‘s ear. I can’t understand something like that. It was calculated. He knew 100% what he was doing.
Kicker: There was no apology. Slavia denied the incident. Kudela supposedly just said “f——— guy.”
18/ Balogun: An apology would have been a lie. When you so consciously try to cover up what you’ve said, you know exactly what you’re trying to do. If you believe you must conduct yourself like that, be honest about it and don’t try to talk your way out of it.
19/ Balogun: He seriously has tried to present the victim as a liar. That is even worse.
Kicker: The incident resulted in a powerful wave of support & everywhere players showed solidarity with your teammate. Before the Old Firm game, Celtic captain Scott Brown hugged Kamara.
20/ Kicker: Do you believe it will help avoid additional situations like this?
Balogun: No. But I take off my hat to Scott Brown for what he did, that was unbelievable. A very, very big gesture. Also for what he said after the game about some things being bigger than football.
21/ Balogun: That was huge. It’s right that this is making waves around the world and that should be the case too.
Kicker: But?
Balogun: What’s missing is action from UEFA or FIFA. I‘m no longer interested in these awful campaigns. They’re all well & good but..
22/ Balogun: the contents of the campaigns have to be lived authentically and can’t just remain empty words. Captain‘s armbands with the inscription “no racism” bring nothing when racist incidents in the final analysis are once again not punished.
23/ Balogun: I get the feeling “people of colour” are being used to promote the supposed inclusive and open to the world values of the FIFA & UEFA brands. But just when hostility is shown to these players, all too often they are silent, embarrassed.
24/ Balogun: I wish that actions would follow on from the expensive campaigns.
Kicker: You look resigned.
Balogun: I’m not expecting much. The past tells us over & over again what happens in such situations - namely nothing at all. But for my part I won’t stop raising awareness..
25/ Balogun: about these matters in the hope that something changes. There is much too much silence.
(That’s the end of the this main chunk of the interview. @LeonBalogun expresses himself very well & kudos to @kicker_bl_li’s Mario Krischel for a brilliant interview.
26/ Random other items from the earlier part of the interview.
Kicker: (sarcastically on the Celtic v Rangers rivalry). Good thing you don’t wear a green shirt when you represent Nigeria.
Balogun: I posted something during my first national team trip as a Rangers player..
27/ Balogun: on Instagram whereupon a fan wrote. “Yes, big man, I’m happy for you but please think again about the colours you’re wearing.” Of course that was said in fun but you can see that the (rivalry) runs deep.
28 Balogun on the title celebration by Rangers fans: “Was it under the current circumstances of the pandemic the best decision? Probably not. Was it understandable from an emotional point of view? Absolutely.”
29/ That’s pretty much everything of note covered. Thanks for reading and thanks again to Kicker. I’m only the translator!

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