Balogun: Wigan loan spell has been brilliant for me

To say that Leon Balogun’s time at Wigan Athletic has started well would be somewhat of an understatement.

By Alex Stedman • 04 March 2020

By Paul Hazlewood
Leon Balogun is on loan at Wigan Athletic for the rest of the season.

The defender has enjoyed three wins and three clean sheets in as many matches since joining the Championship club on loan and the Nigerian defender has been involved in each of the last five games when Wigan have been unbeaten. 

Balogun made the switch to the DW Stadium on deadline day, but it wasn’t the first time he’d crossed paths with Wigan.

He said, “My first encounter with Wigan was actually during my first year as a professional in 2008. 

“I was playing for Hanover in a friendly when they were still in the Premier League back then. 

“Their FA Cup win over Manchester City stands out, and my friend Victor Moses from Nigeria was a big player for them. Then you have Dan Burn, who used to play here, and he told me a little bit about the group while Gaetan Bong began his career in England with the club.”

By REX/Shutterstock.
Balogun tussles for possession against Reading for Wigan Athletic.

Wigan’s impressive run have lifted the side to 19th in the division ahead of Saturday’s crucial game with Luton Town. 

“So far it’s been brilliant. I had a good talk with the manager Paul Cook and I don’t have any regrets because it’s an amazing group,” he said. 

“People in and around the club are great and there’s a real positive chemistry – it’s not what you might have thought given the league position when I joined. The confidence is high and at the moment we’re doing well. The results speak for themselves.”

By Paul Hazlewood
Leon Balogun in action against Sheffield Wednesday in January.

Balogun’s first taste of the Championship has opened his eyes to the fiercely competitive nature of the division, but he says it’s a challenge he relishes now that he’s playing on a regular basis. 

He said, “The thing that stands out for me is the fact that anybody can beat anybody – we’ve shown that with our wins over both Leeds United and West Brom. 

“If you go on a run it’s amazing where it can take you. It’s more physical than the Premier League, but my focus wasn’t on that. It was more about finding a rhythm as quickly as possible and playing matches. 

“I’m enjoying it, especially when you’re on the sort of run we are at the moment. We’re playing well as a team and it’s great to be a part of.”

By Paul Hazlewood
Balogun and Lewis Dunk after Albion's win over Tottenham in October.

As well as playing more than 2,000 minutes of international football for Nigeria, Balogun has now played for seven clubs in England and Germany and believes his experience can help Wigan in the closing weeks of the season.  

“I said to the lads that the focus had to be on ourselves and what we can control,” he added.

“I have quite a bit of experience and I’ve just tried to help as much as I felt appropriate – I was new to the dressing room and I wasn’t going to be a loudspeaker straight away.

“But you sense certain feelings every now and then. I’ve had a few of the lads coming up to me and asking my opinion, but that happened in both Brighton and Mainz and I don’t mind that.

“I’m not going to present myself as some sort of motivational speaker or anything like that. I just try to feed information where I feel it’s needed to help people. It’s a really good group and I can’t emphasise that enough – the team just needed a little bit of momentum, and that’s what we have at the moment.”