NFL International Player Pathway spotlight: Kehinde Oginni Hassan, TE, Nigeria

Kehinde Oginni Hassan is one of three Nigerians to make it to the final stage of the NFL’s International Player Pathway program (IPP).

In 2014, Hassan’s football journey began in Abuja, Nigeria at an Ejike Ugboaja Foundation (EUF) camp. The 6 ‘7″ Hassan, initially thinking he was too lanky to play the sport, was convinced by the American coaches to pursue a career in football.

This first step for Hassan was however marred by a more harrowing memory. On the way back from the EUF camp the bus that the young players were in was involved in a crash resulting in the death of three of Hassan’s teammates. Hassan said this is what inspired him to keep going.

Over the years that followed, Hassan continued to train, attend camps and post videos online which attracted attention from US colleges asking him to come stateside, but due to the irregularity of the sport in Nigeria and the money involved in getting a visa, his application was denied on numerous occasions.

Despite all these setbacks, Hassan stayed motivated with a burning commitment to the sport. This finally paid off in March 2021 when Hassan got a call from former NFL Super Bowl winning New York Giant, Osi Umenyiora. Umenyiora wanted him to attend UpRise Academy in tandem with EUF in Abuja.

After Hassan made the final IPP Combine cut and underwent a gruelling six-months of training, he was on his way to London. At the combine, Hassan wowed scouts with an impressive command of his long frame, making acrobatic catches and quick breaks in and out of his routes. 

Hassan will now be making history as one of the first Nigerian born and raised athletes to enter into the final stage of the NFL’s IPP program next month.

 

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who has worked in B2B journalism and comms in the third sector; with experience in both education and human rights. He played for the London Warriors for 15 years as well as Team Great Britain .