Born in Southwark, London, England on October 8, 1996, Torino defender Temitayo Olufisayo Olaoluwa Aina started his career on the international scene with England but eventually switched allegiance to represent the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
As a youngster, Aina was a prodigy, developing in the Chelsea youth system where he started as a schoolboy under the age of 11. Aina’s development was significantly above his peers and earned him recognition at an early age. Starting out as a winger, Aina later found a home for himself in the wing back position as his pace and ability to use both feet gave him an edge over his peers.
While most Super Eagles players start their development through the Nigerian League or the National Youth Teams, Aina’s path to stardom was set out in front of him when he represented England, the country of his birth, at the age of 15.
At a tender age, Aina burst through the youth ranks of England and featured for all their Youth Teams in several UEFA Euro qualifications games and was captain at at U-19 level. While he was with the England Youth Teams, Aina never progressed to the senior team to make an appearance in a friendly or competitive encounter.
Aina continued to progress through the Chelsea ranks featuring for all their youth teams and was part of the side that won the FA Youth Cup in 2013 and 2014 and the coveted UEFA Youth League on two occasions in 2014 and 2016.
After his numerous successes at youth level, Aina was given a chance to impress with the first team under Antonio Conte in the latter part of the 2016/17 season but did not pick up a Premier League winners medal as he did not make the required amount of games played.
His first taste of consistent first-team football came when he was loaned out to Championship side Hull City, where he made a total of 44 appearances in the 2017/18 season.
In the summer of 2018 and with a new manager at the helm at Stamford Bridge, Aina was again shipped out on loan, this time to the Italian Serie A with Torino where he was impressive under the structure of Walter Mazzari whose system relies heavily on the outbursts of the wing backs.
Aina for most of his career as a professional has been utilized in the right back position, but due to his versatility, he can operate as a left back being able to use both feet.
While he struggled to displace Caesar Azpilicueta and Davide Zappacosta in the Chelsea first team, Aina’s best football has come in Italy where he fits perfectly into the Torino wing-back system which has three central defenders.
At the national team level, he plays second fiddle to Shehu Abdullahi on most occasions, due to his defensive vulnerabilities which he has been found guilty of on a number of occasions. Aina’s greatest strengths come in the offensive end of the pitch been able to deliver the ball into the box as well as pressure opposing full-backs into turnovers.
After making the switch to play for Nigeria, Aina has made a handful of appearances for the Super Eagles, featuring more on the right side of defence in Gernot Rohr’s team.
He narrowly missed on the Super Eagles team to Russia but his return to form at Torino earned him a recall for some of the 2018 AFCON qualifiers and now, the AFCON proper. He has a total of nine appearances but is yet to score for Nigeria.