CHARLOTTE – It started as soon as the media formed a giant circle around Efe Obada’s locker.
Safety Tre Boston began yelling a series of British-inspired questions from across the room.
Then cornerback Donte Jackson started singing “I’m coming, I’m coming home. Tell the world that I’m coming home.”
A few moments later, tight end Greg Olsen walked in.
“DID YOU GUYS KNOW EFE IS FROM LONDON?” he shouted.
Yeah. London week – or better yet, Efe week – has officially begun.
“I’m very excited. What are the chances of me being on a team that’s going to go back to London? I feel like the stars are aligning,” Obada said. “I’m going to make the most of it and enjoy it. And obviously stay focused and help this team.”
Head coach Ron Rivera said Obada is trying his best to downplay the hype surrounding his return to the UK. That’s easier said than done.
“I know, being realistic, he will be bombarded,” head coach Ron Rivera said. “Deservedly so.”
Obada has had an amazing football journey. After discovering American football in London at age 22, the defensive end eventually became the first International Pathway player to make a 53-man roster when he made the cut for Carolina ahead of the 2018 season. Then he made the 53 again in 2019.
But football is just one chapter of his incredible life story.
Obada was born in Nigeria, and when he was 10 years old, he and his sister were trafficked to the United Kingdom from the Netherlands and abandoned on London streets before social services stepped in.
Now, all these years later, later he’s coming back to London as a member of the Carolina Panthers.
“Just the full circle of starting over there and now going back and having the opportunity to play in front of local Brits and people who aspire to be where I am,” Obada said when asked what he’s looking forward to. “We know what sport does for people and how it changes people’s lives.”
Obada knows better than anyone.