The year is 2013, Manchester United play Real Madrid in the Champions League Last 16 at old Trafford. The world of professional football is at least three years away. Madrid would win, in a game dominated by controversies and the otherworldly nature of Cristiano Ronaldo. Jose Mourinho’s terse response told the tail.
Hundreds of thousand miles away, A young boy purports in his heart, he will surpass Ronaldo’s feat.
Six years on, Nigeria play Brazil in Singapore in what was a classic performance. The applause garnered still lasting long. However, eyebrows are raised as to why the Eagles haven’t killed the game amongst purists. Samuel Chukwueze had run riot on the right, Moses Simon had failed to have the desired effect on the left. What if we had someone of that ilk. Samuel Kalu was out injured, Viv Solomon Otabor , his replacement didn’t play, rather Club Brugge forward Emmanuel Dennis was trusted. The Belgian based player put in a decent shift. It was not enough in transition. The spark was missing. Had Nigeria run out of audacious wingers?
Enter Heerenven winger Chidera Ejuke, taking the conventional Nigeria to Europe route. The 21-year-old would quietly make a name for himself in Norway with Valerenga in the Eliteseran scoring 15goals in 70 appearances. He would catch the attention of Lazio and Besiktas, but he’d forsake the allure of European nights and make a strange choice of heading to the Netherlands, where he hopes to develop into a player who can ply his trade in the big leagues.
Perhaps a clear indication of the man’s personality, He always looks at the bigger picture. It is why this season, so far in Holland, He is making waves. Competent of playing anywhere across the forward line, he is primarily a left winger. Blessed with pace, technique and an intelligence that belies his years, Ejuke could be the solution to Nigeria’s wing problems.
He has netted 4 times already in the Eredivisie in 10games. But it is the statistics that follow that make for compelling reading. Ejuke has attempted 62 dribbles, the most in the division, and has completed 39, the second highest in the division.
It is no surprise he won the U21 player of the month in October. He has been assisted by his teammate Mitchell van Bergen twice directly. Ejuke’s ability to cut inside to his stronger foot and take shots show a player who isn’t afraid to test the keeper. Not one to just shoot, Ejuke has cannoned 8 shots from long range this season alone, with a further 6 in the penalty box.
The former Gombe man plays an average 1.6 key passes per game and isn’t afraid to pick a long pass when necessary despite his penchant for short passes which reflects in his Accurate short passes which read 23.5 per game.
Ejuke often outdoes himself, trying so hard to “live to the legacy”, but he still keeps his head down. However, he isn’t the strongest going up. He has only won one aerial duel, losing five of them.
For Chidera, he needs to be monitored at least till the next FIFA Window. A juggernaut in waiting; The Nigerian FF would do well to call the forward. Nigeria needs audacious players.
Author: Tosin Adesina
A football purist.