Super Falcons midfielder Deborah Abiodun has credited coach Randy Waldrum for her career progress, PUNCH Sports Extra reports.
Waldrum, who handed the 19-year-old her Nigeria debut at the 2023 Women’s World Cup, is also her coach at the University of Pittsburgh team in the US, where she has been impressive, scoring goals on her return from the Mundial last month.
Abiodun was shown a red card on her Falcons debut, in the opening Group B clash against Canada at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium in Australia.
It was the first red card of the tournament and it ultimately ended Abiodun’s World Cup, as the Falcons crashed out in the round of 16 to eventual finalists England on penalties.
Referee Lina Lehtovaara from Finland had initially handed the hardworking midfielder a yellow card after her studs caught Ashley Lawrence’s shin, but the yellow was upgraded to red following a VAR review in the 97th minute.
It was a dogged performance by Abiodun and her teammates as they held the Olympic champions Canada to a goalless stalemate.
But it meant she was suspended for her side’s next three games at the tournament, and could only return from the quarter-final stage, but the Falcons fell short after the defeat to the Lionesses.
On her return to Pittsburgh, the teenage midfielder has been in great form, scoring three goals and providing an assist in her first four games.
Abiodun praised Waldrum’s impact in her career and also showed gratitude to everyone who had welcomed her at the American club.
“Everyone accepts and welcomes me and coach (Randy) Waldrum has played a huge part in my career despite meeting him in a short time. He has improved me and most of the girls here, one way or the other. He’s not just a coach, he’s a father, he’s an advisor, he’s a mentor, he’s just a man with grit and lots of good attributes, he has contributed to my life positively,” Abiodun told PUNCH Sports Extra.
“He’s such a great coach and I’m just so thankful to him and his family and everything he has done in my life. You know, my game has improved a lot, it’s just a work in progress for me and I thank every coach that I have passed through because they’ve played one role or the other in my life and contributed to whatever I am today. I’m so thankful to everyone that supported me one way or the other, especially my mother for her prayers too and my friends,” the University of Pittsburgh freshman added.