DANNY Shittu has spent all of his life proving people wrong and he’s happy to do the same again.

The big defender has struggled to break into Wanderers’ starting line-up since joining from Watford in August.

But the Nigerian international, who turned down a loan move to Championship club Derby last week, is determined to show manager Gary Megson he was right to put his faith in him.

“I don’t want to go out on loan – I want to stay here and play for Bolton,” said the 28-year-old.

“I knew when I came here it wouldn’t be easy and I could’ve gone to other Championship clubs, but I want to prove myself in the Premiership.

“I’m not looking at going anywhere. I just want to get into the team and do well.

“I’m just going to work hard in training and wait for my opportunity and, when it comes, I want to be able to take it.

“There’s been times in my life where I’ve had to prove myself to people and this is just another one.”

Shittu, who moved to England aged seven and only decided he wanted to be a footballer at 18, has spent most of his career convincing doubters he had what it takes to make it to the Premier League.

From Bow, a deprived part of East London and one of seven brothers and sisters, a teenage Shittu was struggling in Carshalton youth team in the Rymans League when he embarked on a long and difficult path to the top.

After failed trials at Leyton Orient and Norwich, where he was told he would never make it as a footballer, he wrote to all 92 clubs begging for a chance. Only three replied and they all said no.

But, displaying the kind of tenacity and unflinching belief in his own ability that has enabled him to get where he is today, the centre-half refused to give up, opting instead to contact all the clubs who had turned him down.

His first call was to Charlton, one of the three teams who had at least had the courtesy to refuse him in writing, and, incredibly, they agreed to let him come down for a trial.

“I was due to start a computer studies degree at university in a month but I just thought ‘I can’t work in an office all my life – I’m going to be a footballer’,” explained Shittu, who was talking to youngsters as part of a Prince’s Trust development programme, held in connection with the Premier League’s Creating Chances initiative.

“When I phoned Charlton, I somehow got through to the guy who was in charge of their academy and I was on for about 20 minutes trying to convince him I was good enough.

“Just as I was about to give up, he said I could come down for a one-week trial – that lasted six weeks!

“Week after week they just say ‘come in next week, come in next week’, and I thought I was getting nowhere.

“Then after six weeks they offered me a one-year contract. I’d done it, but that was just the start because I then had to prove I was worth a longer one.”

It completed a remarkable rags to riches journey. He added: “I only started playing football seriously at 18 and a lot of people told me I wouldn’t do it but I always believed in myself.

“My friends used to laugh at me but I’ve had the last laugh because now they’re the ones phoning me asking for tickets.

“The people I grew up with got into bad things and some of my friends have gone to prison – it could have easily been me if I had given up.

“People said I wasn’t good enough to be a professional footballer but now I play in the Premiership and for Nigeria.”

After Charlton, Shittu, who was close to signing for Scottish giants Glasgow Rangers over the summer, had spells at Blackpool and Queens Park Rangers before, in 2002, joining Watford, where he briefly tasted life in the Premiership.

Last season, he was selected in the PFA Championship team of the year and, despite a less than auspicious start to life at Wanderers – his debut came in the humiliating Carling Cup exit at the hands of lowly Northampton and he has made only three more appearances since – he is eager to get another opportunity to prove he can establish himself in Megson’s plans.

“I’ve signed for three years and I’m not going anywhere,” he said. “I believe I’m good enough to get into the team and I want to prove it when I get the opportunity.”

One thing is for certain, if he does not make his mark at the Reebok, it will not be for a want of trying.