Fiercely competitive and endlessly enterprising, young Londoners shape the sport and culture of their city. See Dalston, Peckham, Brixton and more through their eyes and watch as they strive to one-up some of the Londoners they look up to with their own sporting achievements in Nike’s latest film, Nothing Beats a Londoner.
Two hundred and fifty-eight real-life young Londoners appear in the film, spotlighting the city’s vibrant youth culture and inclusive sports community. Here’s what 25 of the stars had to say about the city they’re shaping.
“I feel really privileged to have grown up in London. As an elite athlete I get to travel all over the world and see different cities, but London’s a place where you can truly be whoever you want and you can do whatever you want to do.” - Dina Asher Smith, record-breaking British sprinter, 22
“Since 2012, there’s been a rise in all different kinds of sports, but how we keep that going is the key thing. Its connecting with the kids, getting to know them, seeing what they’re up to, their background and then letting them know you and what it takes to be a champion.” - Mo Farah, Britain’s greatest track athlete, 34
“London is competitive. It’s busy. It’s hard to make your mark sometimes. I think young Londoners have this natural in-built self-belief. They know that to make it in London is going to take hard work and dedication. It’s not an easy path, but they graft, and they grind it out. Self-belief and dedication.” -Harry Kane, England captain and Premier League star, 24
“Londoners are trendsetters. We’re the most fashionable people on the planet. That’s a fact. To stay this way, do what makes you happy. Don’t do what people tell you to do or what you think people want from you.” - AJ Tracey, MC, 23
“London’s my city. I’ve travelled the world, but there’s no place like home. Diversity is the key; it’s a metropolitan city and people from all walks of life mingle and interact with each other. It’s a city where young people have the right tools and platforms. People are now starting to embrace young Londoners’ unique talents.” - Adebayo Akinfenwa, footballer and EA Sports icon, 35
“I grew up in a block of flats with my family in Plaistow, East London. It was a bit rowdy. All I did was go to school, come home and then go training. You have to have a plan and be committed to what you want to do. Don’t be half-hearted. There will be bumpy situations but you’ve got to have the right mentality and push forward.” - Alex Iwobi, Premier League star and Nigeria international, 21
“Today’s young Londoners have got different inspirations. Young brothers from the streets who have done their thing. Now they know they can make things happen whereas before you didn’t – there weren’t people coming up from Peckham or Brixton. The sky is the limit now.” - Giggs, Rap legend, 34
“I’m a South London boy and I feel like everyone has their own identity in London. Football was a big part of this for me. I grew up playing football in a cage on the estate and other estates would come around for tournaments. It would be so competitive.” - Nathaniel Chalobah, Premier League star and England international, 23
“The best thing about London is the way people respect each other. You see lots of people from all over the world, which is great, and the respect between them is why I love London.” - Eden Hazard, two-time Premier League champion, 27
“You can have so much fun in London. There’s so much going on – a wide range of movements in fashion, music, lifestyle and more, with diverse cultures living side by side in the city.” - Rio Ferdinand, England legend and football pundit, 39
“London is one of the best capital cities in the world! We’ve got everything here; you just have to find the thing that you’re passionate about. You’ve got to work hard, persevere, choose the right people to have around you and constantly seek to better yourself. They’re the common denominators for successful Londoners.” - Ian Wright, former Arsenal and England striker, 54
“I came up in London playing in cages and on 5-a-side pitches, learnings things that coaches can’t really teach you. My football background comes from being creative and daring on these pitches. I’m a bit of a cheeky person and I think I’ve learned that from being a Londoner – everyone has a bit of banter about them.” - Leanne Cowan, semi-professional footballer, 21
“London is full of talent, whether it be in music, sport or anything. There’s something about people in London…we dream. My dream is just to play as many games as possible as a professional footballer.” - Ryan Sessegnon, England U-19 international, 17
“London – it’s like everywhere in the world, but in one place.” - Dave, MC, 19
“The best things about London are garage music, grime music and tracksuits. In America, people dress weird.” — Grindah, Kurupt FM pirate radio legend, age unknown
“There’s a community spirit here. We all kind of hate each other but also love each other. When you’re on holiday and meet someone from London, you’re safe to each other.” — Beats,
Kurupt FM pirate radio legend, age unknown
“Growing up in London was sick. North London has a really strong sense of community and everyone kind of knows each other. Nothing beats a Londoner. We’ve just got too much heart.” - Little Simz, musician, 23
“I love our accents, the way we talk. Londoners are the trendsetters, and everyone looks at us. Whatever we do, everyone else follows. We’re on our own thing.” - J Hus, musician, 22
“London is a beautiful place. There’s a lot of freedom; you can just get on a tube and go anywhere within a flash. I love the cultural diversity and there are so many different places within the city to see. There are so many landmarks that sometimes you have to take the time out to really appreciate what’s in London.” - Michael Dapaah, comedian, 27
“I love that we’re chilled here, we’re very low-key and humble. We’re naturally cool. Nothing is forced. Everything is authentic.” - Ray BLK, musician, 24
“Londoners are 1000-percent real. We’ll give it to you as it is. London keeps you grounded.” - Becca McLintock’, make-up artist, 21
“It’s hectic in London but that’s a good thing. We work harder, and we build a toughness that people from other areas don’t have.” - Devante Davis, semi-professional footballer, 19
“I think we take it for granted, but everyone is real here. It’s not fake and there’s just a vibe. I’m constantly inspired by so many things and the fact that we just keep pushing.” - Jai Eleven, fashion designer and student, 20
“There’s a swagger that young Londoners have, along with an attitude and a work ethic. We know that if we put the work in, we’ll be the best.” - Josh Oludije, England U-16 basketball player and student, 16
“People who have grown up in London have something raw about them. We’ve seen it all, so are more accepting to everything around us. It’s hard to feel like you don’t belong.” - Ocean Lewis, athlete and model, 18
The side of London explored in Nothing Beats a Londoner shows how an urban environment can be a canvas for movement and self-expression. From February 9 to February 18, Nike London is living up to its commitment to making this playground even better for young people in the city by turning the school holidays into a celebration of sports. For details and to learn how to get involved, go to nike.com/london.
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