Meet the Aussie striker cracking into the Championship

Eighteen-year-old Aussie Ben Folami has signed a three-year contract with English Championship club Ipswich Town and has set his sights on winning a future Socceroos call-up.

Folami, who was born and raised in Sydney, joined the Tractor Boys from the Sutherland Sharks as a teenager in 2015. He has quickly worked his way up through the club’s junior sides and this season has broken into the first-team.

The striker made his senior debut in the League Cup last August against Crystal Palace and went on to make four appearances in the Championship. Folami has impressed the Ipswich hierarchy and has been rewarded with a new long-term deal.

“I’m happy the club has given me a three-year contract, it’s very good,” Folami told The World Game.

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“Ipswich is a very family-orientated club, very welcoming to me. They’ve helped me and my family a lot. It’s been a great three years to be honest. It’s been tough working your way through the Under-18s, the Under-23s and to the first-team, but it’s all part of the process.”

Folami grew up in western Sydney and the Sutherland Shire, and spent time with the Football NSW Institute. The centre-forward, who modeled his game on Didier Drogba as a youngster, admits he always dreamt of playing overseas.

“I grew up in Blacktown and when I was 10 we moved to the Shire,” he said.

“We were in Gymea for five years and then we moved to Caringbah. I always thought that if you want to make it big you have to come to Europe because this is where the best football is, this is where the best footballers are.

“To be honest, I could never really see myself here. I could never really imagine it. Halfway across the world, where all the best leagues are and the best players are. But I’m here now and I’m really enjoying it.

“It’s all happened very quickly – going from Under-18s, to Under-23s to making a first-team debut. It’s been crazy but it happens. That’s the beauty of football.”

The Tractor Boys finished 12th in the 2017-2018 campaign and are on the hunt for a new manager following the departure of Mick McCarthy. Folami, who is eligible to play for both Australia and Nigeria through his heritage, wants to help push Ipswich towards promotion next season.

“My goals are to become a regular first-team player and to be around the first-team the whole season,” he said.

“I’ve broken in now, my plan is to stay there and try and ensure promotion with Ipswich. Internationally I’d love to play for Australia. I’d love a call-up and I’m not going to play for any other country than Australia.”



The 18-year-old revealed he has been on FFA’s radar and was called up for the Young Socceroos late last year. Ipswich blocked his selection at that time, but Folami remains determined to one day to wear the green and gold.

“I got called up for the Under-19s in September/October,” he said.

“But the gaffer at the time Mick McCarthy said that I can’t go because he needed me for first-team duties. That was a shame because it would have been good to go.

“If I’m playing in the Championship week-in-week-out you never know what could happen. I could just jump straight into the Socceroos. You never know.

“I just need to keep doing what I’m doing and hopefully I’ll be playing for the first-team.”


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4 min read
Published 11 May 2018 at 8:38pm
By John Davidson