A dream 10 years in making, Jermaine Eluemunor set for London homecoming

From ESPN - September 19, 2017

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- When the Baltimore Ravens face the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday in London, the NFL will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of regular-season games played in England.

It will see a determined and unconventional journey come full circle for Ravens rookie offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor.

As a 12-year-old in a north London suburb, Eluemunor was searching for an Arsenal football match on television when he stumbled upon the first American football game in England that counted. Watching the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins play on a muddy Wembley Stadium field in 2007, Eluemunor became enthralled by the contact of the sport and found a new passion.

"I had the dream of playing in the NFL -- playing in Wembley Stadium one day," Eluemunor said.

Stepping foot into Wembley as the 29th English-born NFL player is just part of Eluemunor's story. His persistence to make this a reality is the more fascinating tale.

After watching his first NFL game, he googled "American football in London." His search led to the London Blitz, a five-on-five flag football team that required a 10-minute bus ride from his home.

Eluemunor had to pay 10 pounds to practice and needed to buy his own jersey, which he did not have the money for. Instead, he put on an oversized shirt that fit over his shoulder pads.

"It was exciting because I was actually doing what I wanted to do. But it was not the same," Eluemunor said. "I wanted to hit and do everything that they were doing on TV."


A couple years later, Eluemunor showed how much he wanted to chase his goal of playing in the NFL when his father, mother, two sisters and brother were vacationing in the United States. Two days before the family was scheduled to return to England, his father asked him whether he wanted to move to America.

Eluemunor's response: "Definitely." His father, though, was not as much of a fan.

"I have always supported my kids with whatever they wanted to do, even though I did not like American football," John Eluemunor, Jermaine's father, told NFL Films earlier this year. "I preferred soccer. But I had to support him."

At the age of 14, Eluemunor moved to Danville, New Jersey, where he discovered how long a road it would be to the NFL. He did not know where to line up, and he called his uniform "a kit."

As a senior in high school, Eluemunor sent out a couple hundred emails to every college he could name. The message read: "I have not been playing football for too long, but I know I can bring something to your team. I know I belong."


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