GBOLY ARIYIBI has had many stops in his football career. His latest one at Motherwell could prove to be his most important as he finally looks to establish himself.
Born in Arlington, Virgina, Ariyibi moved to Oxford when he was two months old and it was at Southampton where he took his firs steps in the game. Since then, he has called six different clubs his as the 23-year-old has attempted to make his way in England.
A switch to Lanarkshire has offered Ariyibi a fresh challenge, though. He moved on loan to Tranmere whilst on the books of Leeds, while stints at MK Dons and Northampton followed after he swapped Chesterfield for Nottingham Forest.
A return to the Spireites was on the cards in the summer but Ariyibi has taken time to consider his next journey. After moving north until the end of the season, the 23-year-old joined up with Motherwell at their training base in Tenerife this week as he got down to business once again.
“The Scottish Premiership has grown massively and the profile has been raised with players moving from England and saying great things,” Ariyibi said.
“Football is about opinions and I’d have liked more opportunities at Nottingham Forest but they didn’t come and I’ve tried to get the experience and go on loan and get games which is important for me in my career right now.
“I worked under Mark Warburton at Nottingham Forest but he had his plans and I went on loan to MK Dons but he’s great with young players.
“I had the chance to go on loan at the start of the season but for me it was about making sure I got the right move. I didn’t want to rush anything.
“I could have gone to Chesterfield but it was important I tried to put myself in this shop window and thankfully I’ve got this move so it paid off to be patient and I’m excited by this challenge. There isn’t really a comparison between the National League in England and the Scottish Premiership.”
Ariyibi may be a largely unknown quantity to Premiership observers and Motherwell supporters but the American has done his homework on his new surroundings as he prepares to meet some familiar faces in the coming weeks.
His career hasn’t had the same trajectory as those he once shared a changing room with at Southampton but Ariyibi now has a chance to make a name for himself at Fir Park.
“I know Aaron Tshibola at Kilmarnock, Uche Ikpeazu at Hearts and Joe Worrall at Rangers and others who have played in Scotland and said great things when they returned to England so it made sense for me to come,” he said. “I also know Ross McCormack as we were at Leeds United together and he said great things about the manager and the club and I trust him.
“I started my career at Southampton and I was in the same age group as Luke Shaw, James Ward-Prowse, Calum Chambers and Harrison Reed.
“We all grew up and it was a good set-up. It was a good Academy system but I didn’t have many dealings with Mauricio Pochettino as I was let go as a second year scholar and worked my way up from there.
“Football is all about opportunities and everyone starts at a different time so for me it’s important to pick up my career and get to where I need to be.
“I also played for the USA at underage level and Emerson Hyndman was in the same team as well as Romain Gall who has played for the senior team and is now at Malmo.”