Benjamin Fredrick has quickly settled into life as a Brentford B player, his hard work in improving his game while growing up in Nigeria helping set the 18-year-old up for immediate success in west London.
For Benjamin Fredrick it wasn’t easy growing up as a budding footballer in Nigeria.
As a rising junior star, the now 18-year-old Brentford B player had to “hustle to buy boots for myself”, as he began his journey playing the game he loves.
It’s this hard work he put in while growing up in Nigeria that he says has held him in good stead to have an immediate impact with the young Bees while on loan here for the 2023/24 season.
“In Nigeria coming up, it’s not easy. No sponsor, no help, you just have to try to hustle to buy boots for yourself … most times my dad didn’t have money to afford boots for me, so I had to hustle to buy boots for myself,” said Fredrick.
“From the youth level to the academy level you just have to work very hard, you need to work hard off and on off the pitch … it’s not easy back there in Nigeria, you need to work very hard.
“You need to do extra training, after the team training you have to do extra training for you to be chosen in the academy, if you don’t do that, you can’t come into the academy.
“My hard work has brought me so far, it was not really easy, but my hard work and prayer has brought me so far, (I’m) thankful for that.”
Fredrick grew up in a town called Television, a 16-minute drive from Kaduna, the capital city of Kaduna State in northern Nigeria. He plied his trade in the Simoiben Football Academy set-up, eventually graduating through to the senior ranks.
His time spent developing as a junior player saw Fredrick play on dirt and synthetic surfaces, a far cry from the sublime pitches the players are presented with daily at the Robert Rowan Performance Centre.
“When I came here, the pitches were good, fantastic. In Nigeria, some pitches have some holes which you can injure yourself in,” said Fredrick.
Since graduating into the senior ranks in Nigeria, Fredrick has been on loan with Nigeria National League side ABS Football Club and Nigeria Premier League outfit Nasarawa United, where he made six appearances last season.
His next adventure brought him to west London, signing with Brentford B on 31 August this year and quickly settling into the young Bees’ backline.
He donned the Brentford jersey for the first time against Wingate & Finchley in a 2-0 loss in the London Senior Cup, playing a full 90 minutes. He has since played full games in back-to-back Premier League Cup fixtures against Burnley and Leicester City and 83 minutes in a friendly against West Ham, highlighting his immediate impact and impressions on Neil MacFarlane and his coaching staff.
The most recent Premier League Cup clash was a 1-0 win over the young Foxes, Fredrick forming a wall in defence alongside Charlie Farr, Val Adedokun, Charlie Goode and Ji-soo Kim to prevent any meaningful Leicester City offensive attacks.
He admits there has been some adjusting for him to a different game style in England, but it’s one he is feeling increasingly more confident playing.
“In England, you have to keep the ball, you have to start the ball from the back … to the midfield, to the attack. In Nigeria … it’s very different, but I’ve been adapting,” said Fredrick.
“The first time I came I was panicking because I was afraid to lose the ball, but now I feel more confident on the ball, I believe no one can take the ball off my leg.
“When I first came from Nigeria, my passes were very bad … the coach (Neil MacFarlane) always supports me when I make a mistake, he always encourages me … now I’m getting perfect.”
The rising star bases his game off Sergio Ramos, the Sevilla star’s winning mentality something Fredrick has brought into his own game.
He has also leant on Brentford first team player and Nigeria national team member Frank Onyeka since coming to England, the 25-year-old helping Fredrick adjust to life in west London.
“I look up to Sergio Ramos, he’s my role model. I love his mentality on the pitch and off the pitch,” said Fredrick.
“When I’m on the pitch I always want to play like Ramos … because his mentality on the pitch, he hates losing. I hate losing, I always want to win.
“He (Onyeka) told me a lot about the club, he told me I need to work hard, he told me the club is a good club, it’s like a family and I’ve seen it since I’ve been here.
“The players always encourage me … everybody loves me and I love all my mates, I’m grateful for that.”
While having made a seamless transition to life as a Brentford player on the pitch, Fredrick concedes the move to London has been tough at times. However, his love for the game has helped him settle into his new home and go from strength-to-strength.
“Football has always been my life, I’ve loved football from (when I was) small, it has always been part of me,” said Fredrick.
“It was not easy, but the love of the game and the passion brought me here, and the hard work on and off the pitch.”
Now a part of a Premier League club environment, Fredrick has noted the level the men’s first team train and play at, a level he aspires to reach during his career.
“It’s tough, very tough. You need to be strong, you need to work hard for you to be on the pitch in the Premier League … so I’m trying my best to do so. I believe one day I will be there,” said Fredrick.
“That’s my dream, to be there, to be in the first team, to play at the top league, that’s my dream.”