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From Burlington to Birmingham: Diba Nwegbo Making a Name for Himself in USL Championship
“I think it is never good to be complacent."
It seemed like Diba Nwegbo was headed back to Burlington for the Summer as Vermont Green FC announced that the forward would be returning for his second season with the Green, but things suddenly changed.
The Birmingham Legion showed interest in Nwegbo starting in February. Vermont head coach and sporting director Adam Pfeifer was supportive of Nwegbo going on trial and in March, the forward signed with the Legion.
In 31 appearances, the former Vermont Green goalscorer has been impressive. In his first professional season, he has tallied 1 goal and three assists.
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But there was still a learning curve for Nwegbo. He had to adjust to playing with fellow college players, to season professionals.
“The players are a lot more experienced, guys coming from like all over the world, from MLS, USL veterans, people who are very skilled, very talented.” Nwegbo told The Blazing Musket. It’s definitely a step up physically too. Everything was a step up from USL 2 or college. It took some time to adapt but now I’m more comfortable and I feel like a part of the group.
Part of the group is former Rev Juan Aguedelo who has performed well at “Revs South.” The veteran and others have helped guide Nwegbo in this new phase of his career.
The Legion are also led by head coach Tommy Soehn, another familiar face to Revolution fans and remembered fondly down in D.C. thanks to his impressive coaching stint with D.C. United.
Nwegbo stated that Soehn has been instrumental to his growth as a player.
“He’s been very instrumental in my growth over the last year,” the forward said. “He pushed me a lot and he has faith in me.”
Nwegbo also added that Soehn has giving him plenty of playing time which has helped him improve this year.
“I’m thankful to him,” Nwegbo added. “He always knows that I’m obviously willing to work as hard as possible but he also is willing to reward me for that.”
A testament to Nwegbo’s work ethic is the fact that he continues to strive for improvement. He has received a heavy dose of playing time and also been able to make an impact on the stat sheet but he still views this season as a year of learning.
“I feel like I had a bit of a slow start,” the forward stated. “I think the season has been a lot of ups and downs. I had a few very good moments, a few not-so-great moments but it’s all part of the learning curve. So I’m just trying to take everything in stride.”
While Nwegbo is now repping Birmingham, he hasn’t forgotten about The Green. When asked if he kept up with the team, he chuckled and said that he watched every game.
After being asked to reflect on his time in Burlington, Nwebo recalls how close of a group the inaugural squad was and the community atmosphere it created.
“I feel like the togetherness of the group was the best thing,” he said. “We were all friends on that team and it was nice meeting so many different guys who are good players, some who are professional now and a lot who are gonna be professional. The community aspect that there was, coaches and owners are great people and wanted the best for us. That definitely played a big role into my enjoyment.”
The forward also appreciated the care that coaches displayed for the players along with some shoutouts to coach Reuben Ayarna and Chris Taylor as well as Pfeifer.
While 2023 has been a year of milestones for Nwegbo, he still has his sights set on the next step. The former Vermont man hopes to play in MLS or possibly Europe one day.
“I think it is never good to be complacent,” he said. “Obviously if you want to stay where you are then do that but I have lofty ambitions at a high level so kind of excited to see what the next few years have in store.”