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Ndidi celebrates with team-mate Kasper Schmeichel

Wilfred Ndidi: We are playing each game like it is a final

Nigeria and Leicester City defensive midfielder, whose first Premier League goal, a wonder strike against Stoke on Saturday, is a candidate for Goal of the Season, said in an interview yesterday that since coach Claudio Ranieri was sacked in February, with the team hovering just above the relegation places, the players took one look at their situation and decided to play the next games as finals.

Ndidi’s recent form has led to speculation that Premier League big teams Manchester United and Arsenal were looking to poach him. But when he was signed by Ranieri in January, the lanky midfielder said he was concerned about the pace of the English game.

Watch the interview:

Ndidi thanked God and his team-mates for being able to settle so quickly in England. His team-mates have nicknamed him “teddy bear” because of the gentleness in his reaction to off-pitch banter. But the Foxes’ midfielder is a different animal on the pitch. He has dismissed comparison with N’golo Kante, who anchored the Leicester midfield to the Premier league title last season and is repeating that feat with Chelsea this term. The Nigerian said “I like to be myself” and not play like Kante.

While he was sad about Ranieri’s departure, he knew he came to England to play football and not worry about who the coach was. Leicester face Atletico Madrid in the last eight of the Champions League next week.

As well as being happy with life in England, Ndidi was pleased about Nigeria’s 1-1 draw with Senegal in London last month as good preparation for the serious business of World Cup qualification.

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