One player I would take from the National League

I’ve been looking at free agents, predominately those released by League One clubs who might be at the sort of level we need for a promotion push. One player has stuck in my mind from our league though, a versatile full-back who might offer us options as we look to push on through League Two.

Femi Ilesanmi really stood out during Boreham Wood’s visit to Sincil Bank in October. He is an attacking full-back and although we won that game with relative comfort, the powerful presence of Ilesanmi really caught my eye. He’s a big lad and looked really strong as well as showing intention to get forward.

He also has plenty of league experience, first in 120 outings for Dagenham in both League One and Two, and then in a couple of seasons at York City as well. He didn’t enjoy the greatest of spells at York, he was openly criticised by manager Jackie McNamara on occasion. Having said that given York’s plight I’m not sure we should rely too much on what Jackie McNamara thinks of players.

Some players thrive after spending a bit of time in the National League, and this year Boreham Wood have surprised many by avoiding a relegation dogfight. They almost upset our title charge with the 2-0 win in March, and Ilesanmi impressed once again. After rebuilding his career with Boreham he is now out of contract and as yet hasn’t committed to anywhere next season. Speaking to the Non League Paper he said:

“On a personal level I’ve enjoyed the season. I want to play at the highest level possible. I am very ambitious and know next season is an important one for me. It’s a big period in my career.”

His career might be about to take off, as the NLP also reported that he had taken part in a behind-closed-doors friendly with a group of Nigerian players trying to showcase their abilities for the Super Eagles. Although he was born in Southwark his parents are Nigerian and now the ambitious defender has his eyes on the World Cup in 2018.

“I was shocked to be invited along last month. It took me by surprise to be honest but what an honour for me. I have always wanted to pull on a Nigeria shirt, but to work closely with such a talented group of players is what dreams are made of in a lot of ways. Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi and Manchester City’s Kelechi Ihenacho were involved, and Jon Obi Mikel. It was an incredible experience to play and train with some of my heroes. But the experience has left me wanting even more.”

He is already attracting the attention of Football League clubs looking to build for next season, and after being awarded Boreham Wood’s Player of the Year this season has been the most fruitful in his career. He does operate at left back which is a position we have tied up, but he can also get forward and drop across into a centre half role. With three cup competitions and the league to contest next season one of the key factors in success is going to be strength in depth.

Femi is a young man who knows that it is now or never, and his ambition could match that of our own as we look to continue our upward trajectory. He is a God-fearing man who has ‘God is everything’ as part of his twitter bio, and he is ambitious wanting to play in the next World Cup. Away from that hype I’ve seen him twice against City now and on both occasions he stuck out a mile as having that little bit of class not all National League defenders have. No doubt managers will be watching developments closely over the next few days, I wonder if Danny Cowley is one of them?

1 Comment

  1. When we played Boreham Wood in the FA Trophy in February I remember Danny praising Joe Ward for a good game because he said Ilesamni was one of the very best left-backs in non-league, particularly in one-on-one situations. He is definitely capable of playing at a higher level, reminded me a little bit of Kevin Austin 🙂

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