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MON 13 JUN 2022 | FOOTBALL PROJECTS
CD Leganés’ internationalisation strategy takes the club to Nigeria and leads to a meeting with president Muhammadu Buhari
CD Leganés’ internationalisation strategy takes the club to Nigeria and leads to a meeting with president Muhammadu Buhari
  • The LaLiga SmartBank club has been collaborating with the Mees Palace Football Academy in Jos and organised a visit in May to share their training methodology, to visit local institutions and much more.
  • When the country’s president Muhammadu Buhari visited Madrid a week later, CD Leganés’ Nigerian centre-back Kenneth Omeruo was invited to the reception and brought shirts and a ball as gifts.

At the end of May, CD Leganés organised a five-day visit to the Mees Palace Football Academy in the Nigerian city of Jos. There, the Spanish club built on existing connections with that football school and the country by sharing ideas on training methodology, running courses for local coaches, holding talent spotting sessions and organising visits to other associations and institutions. This helped CD Leganés to promote the club’s brand and to explore new opportunities for expansion and collaboration in Nigeria.

The LaLiga SmartBank club had already collaborated with this academy in December 2021, doing so through the club’s foundation by sending shirts so that boys and girls could compete in a local tournament wearing Lega’s blue and white colours. From there, the relationship with the Nigerian school grew and this led to the visit in May, when members of CD Leganés’ international department travelled to Jos to further develop the relationship and to work on the Madrid club’s internationalisation and brand expansion strategy.

Faissal Chehade and Guillermo Gazapo are, respectively, the director and coordinator of CD Leganés’ international department and they explained why Nigeria is such a strategic market, stating: “There is a great footballing culture in the country and we’re seeing more and more Nigerian players making it at the top level of European football, with a massive following of fans. In recent years, the club has carried out different activities in Nigeria and the feeling is very positive. We have seen a lot of potential for growth, both in terms of football and branding. We feel that this is a good time to explore new markets and we believe that Nigeria meets all the requirements.”

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As the members of the club’s international department point out, this is far from the first initiative CD Leganés have worked on in the West African country. They continued: “The visit to Nigeria is the result of several years of hard work in the country. We have reached agreements with other local academies, including that of our player Kenneth Omeruo, while we had been exploring new opportunities for some time, although the pandemic made it impossible to travel to the country for a while. We have drawn up a list of activities that we would like to carry out in the medium and long term in the region and we are very eager and excited to start working on this.”

During this May visit, CD Leganés consolidated existing relationships and established new contacts. The work of Desmond Chiji, LaLiga’s Global Network delegate for Nigeria, was key in helping to set up and coordinate these meetings. As Chehade and Gazapo said: “His help and guidance were indispensable in helping to promote the CD Leganés brand. We received a great welcome. Nigerian hospitality is probably among the best in the world. Even before our trip, everyone made sure we had everything we needed and we are enormously grateful for that.”

CD Leganés’ meeting with Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari

Shortly after the trip to the city of Jos, the Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari made an official state visit to Spain for the Nigerian-Spanish Business Forum. The event took place in Madrid and, with CD Leganés having established such strong connections with the West African country, first-team player Kenneth Omeruo was invited along.

The Nigeria international centre-back presented president Buhari with CD Leganés merchandise, such as shirts with the leader’s name on the back and a football. In the Nigerian media, many publications and outlets shared videos and wrote articles about this exchange.

Long-term plans for expanding the CD Leganés brand in Nigeria

The visit to Jos and the meeting with the Nigerian president were both major successes for CD Leganés’ international department, yet nobody at the club is resting on their laurels. They will continue to work on brand expansion, keenly aware that this kind of brand growth requires patience and dedication.

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As the club concluded: “We put a lot of emphasis on continuous work, as we don’t want our work in a certain place to be quickly forgotten after just a short time. This is perhaps the challenge that gives us the most work, but we take it on with enthusiasm because we believe in the final result. We do this work meticulously because, for us, it is very important to take care of the club's brand. We try to make our work gradual, making sure we generate impact in each region and making sure people gradually begin to identify our brand and image.”

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