One of the stars at the recently concluded Africa Cup of Nations and who will certainly have caught the eye of football fans on SuperSport, has been Nigerian winger Samuel Chukwueze.

The 20-year-old and his Super Eagles team bid farewell to the AFCON when they beat Tunisia 1-0 in the third-place playoff game, leaving Chukwueze to turn his focus to the new 2019/20 La Liga season, where he will look to continue the incredible progress he has made with Villarreal.

Ikwuano-born Chukwueze came a long way very fast following his La Liga debut against Levante on 4 November 2018, having scored his first senior goal for club from Spain’s eastern coast in a Copa del Rey tie against Almeria a few days previously.

A first La Liga goal arrived on November 11, when he drove into the area and dribbled past two defenders before firing low through the legs of Rayo Vallecano goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski.

A second league strike came the following weekend, when Chukwueze received a back-heel from teammate Santi Cazorla and showed composure and technique to fire the ball low into the bottom corner for the winning goal against Real Betis at the Estadio de la Ceramica.

The huge moments kept coming for SuperSport viewers, with the teenager completing the 90 minutes in a narrow defeat at Barcelona’s Camp Nou, and hitting his first Europa League goal in a 2-0 victory against Spartak Moscow to confirm Villarreal’s progress as group winners to that competition’s last 32.

All that seemed a long way away when Chukwueze was born back on 22nd May 1999 in Abia State, Nigeria. He began playing football aged just five, and although his parents originally wanted him to concentrate on his studies, his natural talent and dedication soon shone through.

While honing his skills at the famed Diamond Football Academy, Chukwueze came to international attention with his thrilling performances as Nigeria won the 2015 Under-17 World Cup trophy. Three goals in the competition, including a strike after just 25 seconds in a 5-1 win
against hosts Chile, secured him the competition’s Bronze Boot prize.

After joining Villarreal’s youth system in 2017, he quickly settled and was first promoted to the C team before rising into the B reserve side playing in Spain’s third tier. Having impressed his coaches in training with the senior side, a first-team chance soon arrived and was taken with
both hands.

A fast, direct winger who likes to cut inside and shoot, Chukwueze has been compared to former Real Madrid star Arjen Robben. Current Nigeria international Ikechukwu Uche, who played for Villarreal between 2011 and 2015, is a close follower of his compatriot’s career.

His immediate impact on La Liga has raised hopes that Chukwueze could emulate another Nigerian, Christopher Ohen. The former Real Madrid youth teamer scored 48 goals in 117 top-flight games for SD Compostela in the 1990s, making him the third-highest African scorer in La Liga history.

In what was a difficult 2018/19 season for the Yellow Submarine, their emerging Nigerian star is a rising star to keep their spirits high in the new La Liga season!

Samuel Chukwueze’s profile

Born: 22 May 1999 in Umuahia, Abia State, Nigeria
Height: 1.72m
Position: Winger/attacking mdfielder
Current club: Villarreal (Spain)
Club career: 2012-2017 Diamond Football Academy; 2017-present Villarreal
Career La Liga stats: 26 appearances, 5 goals, 2 assists, 1711 minutes played
International debut: 20 November 2018, Nigeria 0-0 Uganda
International stats: 8 appearances, 1 goal

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