As a Manchester United fan, it marked the ultimate endorsement for Nigerian Afrobeat sensation D’Banj when Rio Ferdinand expressed his love for his debut UK single ‘Oliver Twist’ to his 2.6million Twitter followers.
With Red Devils midfielder Tom Cleverley also waxing lyrical about the infectious tune all over the twittersphere,D’Banj is determined to make all of his United heroes – including Sir Alex Ferguson – a fan of the song.
With his ‘Oliver Twist’ dance competition having already gone viral on YouTube, the Nigerian is hoping to see Rio and co. celebrating their goals to his tune – and has told Sky Sports he’ll even nip down to the Old Trafford dressing room and teach the stars some moves.
D’Banj, who releases the single on 14th May having signed to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D label following a fierce bidding war, took time out from recording in the States to regale us with his United-themed football firsts.
I live in Nigeria and I’ve always been a Man United fan. In Nigeria, football is our thing. On Saturdays and Sundays, there’s no traffic, you see people sitting down, everyone is in their house, watching a Premiership match or a Championship match. My family are actually divided; we have Manchester United, which is me, then you have Arsenal fans and Chelsea fans. It’s very interesting on match days, that’s why every Saturday we’re watching a game – either to support someone or to not support someone. Either way you’re watching the match.
I was just saying a couple of weeks back, I was in the States and I saw a Tweet from Rio Ferdinand,saying he was a big fan. He’s actually been to Nigeria and he said ‘Oliver Twist’, my single, was actually his favourite Afrobeat song. I was like, get on the phone to Sir Alex Ferguson, get me to that locker room and I’ll perform it for him before he goes out for his next match. It was so inspiring, because it’s my first single coming out, and for Rio Ferdinand to say that, I know that’s like me getting the stamp of approval. Tom Cleverley also gave props to ‘Oliver Twist’ on Twitter. I know he’s injured so a speedy recovery to him.
I would be honoured to have players do my ‘Oliver Twist’ dance. I would actually come to the locker room – any one – and actually do it with them. I know Sir Alex Ferguson could do it, he needs to just move, move his shoulders. You don’t have to be a professional dancer, you can even do it with the ball. That’s the mission – get the players doing that.
A lot of young players have grown up and been taken to the Premiership to play for different clubs from the local Nigerian teams. At home I support Enyimba FC who are from the Eastern side of Nigeria. They’re good, loads of players from the past who have gotten into the Premiership or Championship have played at this club before. It’s a very good starter club. They’re getting huge now – huge support and backing. There’s also Sunshine Stars FC, who are also very good. I’m not always in Nigeria, I’ve been on the road for a couple of years now, so I’m always on Sky Sports, catching up with my Premiership and my Championship.
When I was growing up, I just wanted to be like David Beckham. Not just for the football part of it but because of the way he was such a brand. When it comes to the football, I respect the likes of Ryan Giggs, who has been there for ages, andPaul Scholes. I’d been hearing the name Giggs when I was just 10 or 11, he’s a veteran, and I’d like to have a picture with Paul Scholes. It would be like having a picture with a superhero. It takes a lot of experience, a lot of skills and a lot of patience for someone to be that way, and also loyalty. I feel people like them show that sport isn’t just about one person and make you know that this is a team. And of course I can’t not mention Wayne Rooney. Rooney plays like he’s in a gladiator match, he’s such an intelligent player.
In terms of Nigerian players, people like Nwankwo Kanu, Yakubu, these people came from the streets and made it. They’ve taken on the language barrier and not let anything hold them back. Today, they’re being celebrated as the world’s best, some are retired but some are still actively playing, like Victor Moses right now. Before when your child was growing up, the parents wanted you to be a doctor or a lawyer or an engineer but now everybody wants their child to be in the Premiership and be like David Beckham. I give a lot of kudos to the sport and the people that support the sport.