Academy Spotlight: Mesaque Dju
A hugely popular player and figure at the Academy of Football, meet Mesaque Dju - in his words.
From beginning his footballing career as a goalkeeper to the words of advice he carries from his idol Cristiano Ronaldo, 21-year-old winger Dju is hoping to show his undoubted skills on the pitch once more next season.
The first team I played for back in Portugal was called Estrela da Amadoro. I was very young, and that was back when football was very new to me. I got a chance to see the stadium and then I had a trial with them, and they said that they liked me, so I signed for them straight away!
A big inspiration for me growing up was wanting to play for Benfica. My father is a fan of the club and that was a great motivation for me to try and play for them. On the pitch I spent more time learning to play with my brother and my friends before a career in football became a more serious option. I was only ten or eleven, playing against my friends who were 17 or 18, and that helped me develop a lot quicker at a younger age.
I haven’t always been a winger - believe it or not, I actually started off as goalkeeper when I first played football! Then, once I moved to Portugal, I moved to centre-back, but I didn’t stay there long because I kept running out of defence and doing skills, so I was switched to the wing.
The most difficult thing about being a young footballer for me has been living away from my family. I know they’re proud of me and what I’m achieving and that’s the most important thing.
My idol growing up was Cristiano Ronaldo because he was one of the first players that I got the chance to watch on TV.
His skills and talent are undeniable and for me there is not much competition in terms of who I look up to. I’ve been lucky enough to meet him and speak to him and he told me: "Never give up, your moment will come." That’s something I always carry with me.
I’ve got a lot of good friends in the squad, so this is very difficult, but I’d say my best friends are Xande Silva, Bernardo Rosa and Gonçalo Cardoso. They’re all great guys and obviously we have the Portuguese connection, so to pick one would be too difficult.
I’d say that Nathan Holland has the most natural talent in the squad - he makes it all look so easy regardless of whether it’s in training or in a match. He’s great to watch!
We’ve got a great environment in the dressing room and we’re always laughing and joking together but I think Joseph Anang is the biggest practical joker. He’s so funny, he always plays really funny music and dances around the dressing room.
After a match we’re always waiting on Xande Silva! He wants to go on his phone and call everyone, so when we’re playing away games, he’s always the last on the bus.
FIFA, Films & Food
I play FIFA from time to time and normally I play as Real Madrid. They’ve got such a good team on FIFA, it’s easy to always be them! But I don’t always like to play PlayStation; I much prefer to play pool or table tennis. I think I’m the best in squad at table tennis. We haven’t played in a long time, so we’ll have to see soon.
My favourite TV series at the moment is Power, but I also quite like Narcos - they’re both really exciting. In my spare time, I watch quite a lot of Netflix and my favourite film is probably Bad Boys. It’s so funny! I went to watch the new one in the cinema and really enjoyed it.
I have quite a wide range of music tastes. I like rap but I also like Portuguese music. Two of my favourite artists are Drake and Lil Baby, but I like to mix it up quite a lot.
My favourite food is really simple: I really like chicken and rice with a bit of salad. I try to keep it healthy but sometimes I like to have a pizza or a burger, especially in the off-season. If I go out to eat, I normally go to Nando's, when I first moved to England, I went all the time, but not so much now.