NFL

Emotional Obada reflects on special return to London with Panthers

By Sports Desk October 14, 2019

An emotional Efe Obada was able to savour a special moment in his career after helping the Carolina Panthers to victory on home soil in London.

The second-year defensive end – who was born in Nigeria but trafficked to the English capital from the Netherlands at the age of 10 – was named honorary captain for the Week 6 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Obada appreciated the opportunity to mark the occasion, with members of his family inside the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to see him in action following his rapid rise.

Despite being listed as the away team, the Panthers had plenty of support inside the new home of Premier League team Spurs, with the local favourite loudly cheered as he blew kisses to the crowd while leaving the field after a 37-26 triumph on Sunday.

Asked in his post-match news conference if the day was everything he had dreamed it would be, he replied: "Everything and more, honestly. Everything and more.

"I had family in the stands - most of them don't even understand what I'm doing, but they believe in me, have been supporting me for years.

"For me to be in London, just show them, it was really special."

Obada spent time on the practice squads with the Dallas Cowboys, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Atlanta Falcons before eventually getting the opportunity to play in Carolina.

The first player from the International Pathway program to make a 53-man NFL roster, the 27-year-old featured in 10 games in the 2018 season and has been an ever-present member of the defense so far in this campaign.

Rivera revealed he opted to make Obada captain after discussing the idea with some of Carolina's players.

"I wasn't even expecting that," Obada admitted. "I had the number jersey on in the beginning. I came in, everybody was waiting for me for pre-game rituals.

"He [Rivera] pulled out the jersey with the 'C' on it. I still have it - I'm not giving it back, either!"

Carolina's head coach described the trip to London as a "cool experience", having told his squad to make the most of the opportunity to travel overseas.

"One of the things we talked to our guys about was embracing it," Rivera said.

"I've been around players and coaches who really don't embrace coming over. I think that's a huge mistake because this really is a neat atmosphere. The fans, first of all, they come cheer to appreciate the athleticism. That's probably the biggest thing.

"When you get a group of your own fans that come in droves like they did, not just to enjoy the UK, but to enjoy an opportunity to watch a football game. That was pretty cool, very special.

"This is my third time here as a player, coach and now as a head coach. It's been a cool experience, it really has."

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