Meet the only Nigerian who played for Real Madrid

Meet the only Nigerian who played for Real Madrid
Credit: @marvinnpark on Instagram

On September 20, 2020, Marwin Olawale Akinlabi made history as the first Nigerian-descended player to ever play for Real Madrid in a top-level game.

He was just 20 years old when he came onto the field as a substitute in the 70th minute during a tough match against Real Sociedad in the Spanish La Liga.

This moment was a big deal because, unlike some other big European clubs, Real Madrid had never had a Nigerian player before.

Marvin Park profile 

Marvin Olawale Akinlabi Park, commonly known as Marvin Park or simply Marvin, is a Spanish footballer born on July 3, 2000.

Currently plying his trade in La Liga, Marvin represents Las Palmas, where he's on loan from his parent club Real Madrid.

Primarily operating as a right winger, Marvin brings versatility to the pitch, capable of seamlessly transitioning into the role of a right back when needed.

His skill set and adaptability have marked him as a promising talent within Spanish football, with his loan spell from Real Madrid providing valuable experience for his development on both a personal and professional level.

Club career

Early years

Marvin's football journey traces back to his roots in Palma de Mallorca, Balearic Islands, where he began honing his skills with Sporting Ciutat de Palma in his formative years.

However, his path to professional football took him on a diverse trajectory, including a stint with English club Tranmere Rovers FC, spanning three years.

Real Madrid

Mrvin Park in Real Madrid training with Casemero and Marcelo
Credit: @marvinnpark on Instagram

Upon his return to Spain, Marvin continued his development with SD La Salle and AD Penya Arrabal before catching the eye of Real Madrid's renowned youth academy, La Fábrica, in 2016.

His ascent through the ranks was marked by notable milestones, with his senior debut for the reserves coming on August 25, 2019, where he showcased his potential as a second-half substitute in a Segunda División B encounter against Las Rozas CF.

The 2019-2020 season proved pivotal for Marvin as he transitioned seamlessly into senior football, highlighted by his maiden senior goal scored on October 26, 2019, in a hard-fought home match against Racing de Ferrol.

Despite the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the player made a significant impact, registering three goals in 26 appearances and contributing to the under-20s' triumph in the UEFA Youth League.

His breakthrough moment arrived on September 20, 2020, when he made his debut for Real Madrid's first team in a La Liga fixture against Real Sociedad, stepping onto the pitch as a substitute for Rodrygo.

This moment not only underscored Marvin's rise through the ranks but also affirmed his place among the elite ranks of Spanish football, marking the beginning of what promises to be a bright career at one of the world's most prestigious clubs.

Las Palmas

Marvin Park in action against Barcelona
Credit: @marvinnpark on Instagram

In August 2022, Marvin embarked on a loan spell with UD Las Palmas in Segunda División, marking a significant opportunity for the young footballer to gain valuable experience at a competitive level.

His impact was immediate, as he notched his first professional goal on August 22, propelling his team to a resounding 4-0 victory over Málaga CF.

Throughout the campaign, the interntaional showcased his talent and versatility, featuring prominently in 24 matches as Las Palmas clinched promotion to the top tier of Spanish football.

Building on his successful loan stint, Marvin seized the opportunity to further his development by returning to Las Palmas on loan for the entirety of the 2023-24 season, with the enticing prospect of a permanent move on the horizon.

This decision underscored both his commitment to the club and his determination to continue making strides in his footballing journey.

International career

Despite his initial inclusion in the Spain U19 squad and his decision to represent the Spanish national team, Marvin's international career did not progress beyond his sole appearance in a friendly match against Italy U19s in January 2019.

Despite this, his commitment to Spain's youth setup showcased his ambition and dedication to international football, even though he did not have the opportunity to further represent the country on the field.

Nevertheless, his multicultural background and talent continue to mark him as a noteworthy figure within the footballing landscape, with his future endeavors potentially leading him to new opportunities on both domestic and international fronts.

Honours

Lifting a trophy
Credit: @marvinnpark on Instagram

Real Madrid (youth)

  • UEFA Youth League: 2019–20

Marvin Park parents

Marvin Park's family background is a captivating blend of diverse cultures and heritage.

Born in Spain to a Nigerian father and a South Korean mother, Marvin embodies the multicultural tapestry that enriches his upbringing and identity.

Marvin Park girlfriend

Marvin's girlfriend
Credit: @lucia.gonzalezp on Instagram

Marvin Park's personal life is intertwined with a special bond he shares with his girlfriend, Lucia Gonzalez.

Lucia, a graduate from Universidad Pontificia Comillas, brings her own unique background and experiences to their relationship, complementing Marvin's multicultural heritage.

Pet

Alongside their shared adventures, Lucia and Marvin also share the joy of caring for their beloved dog, Otto. Otto isn't just a pet; he's a cherished member of their family, bringing warmth and companionship to their home.

Through their shared experiences and mutual affection for Otto, Lucia and Marvin's relationship is fortified by love, laughter, and a deep sense of connection that transcends borders and cultures.

Marvin Park Instagram

Marvin's Instagram account, @marvinnpark, serves as a vibrant hub where fans and followers from around the world can connect with the talented footballer on a more personal level.

With a growing community of 94.2K followers at the time of writing, Marvin's Instagram provides a glimpse into both his professional and personal life.

This article was most recently revised and updated 1 month ago

Rababe Koussaimi, a 22-year-old journalist, is deeply passionate about the world of sports. She grew up in a footballing environment, supporting both Bayern Munich and Wydad Athletic Club. She began her English journalism career by hosting a podcast for the first English radio station in Morocco. Currently, the Moroccan journalist channels her enthusiasm into writing and conducting extensive research, creating insightful and engaging content for GoalBall Live readers.