Barcelona suffered a humiliating loss in the 2023/24 Champions League season and the catalyst was Super Eagles man Chidera Ejuke.
The 25-year-old, who is on loan at Belgian Jupiler Pro League champions Royal Antwerp, terrorised the Blaugrana backline for 80 minutes in their UEFA Champions League matchday six clash.
He did not get on the scoresheet but Xavi and his team will have flashbacks to the days when another Nigerian winger, Samuel Chukwueze, used to terrorise them with Villarreal.
With AFCON 2023 drawing near, let us meet Chidera Ejuke, who is one of José Peseiro’s possible inclusions in the squad for the tournament.
— Home of Nigerian Football (@EaglesTrackerNG) December 13, 2023
Chidera Ejuke profile: Biography and early life
|Date of birth
|2 January 1998 (25 years)
|Place of birth
|Zaria, Kaduna State
|1.76 m (5 ft 9 in)
Chidera Ejuke is a left-winger who plays for Royal Antwerp in the Belgian league, on loan from Russian club CSKA Moscow. He also appeared eight times for the Nigeria national team.
The forward was born in Northern Nigeria to trader parents and had a lower-class upbringing. However, he was able to pursue his interests without worrying too much about his next meal, like many footballers.
Still, his parents had to deny him access to football because they did not see a good path to success for him at the early stages.
He would eventually sign for Gee-Lec academy and then for a local team, Supreme Court FC, as a teenager in secondary school, where his performances would catch the attention of scouts from Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) side Gombe United.
In 2016, at the age of 17, he moved to neighbouring Gombe to join Gombe United. He was playing in their academy and preparing to make his debut when superstar Norwegian-Nigerian football agent and player scout Atta Aneke found him.
Goals in back-to-back games for Chidera Ejuke at Royal Antwerp 💫
Back on form. pic.twitter.com/8fXSIxfZfm
— Soar Super Eagles (@SSE_NGA) December 9, 2023
Chidera Ejuke journey to football in Europe and success
The agent helped him get a move to Vålerenga, a club in Norway. Ejuke played for the club from 2017 to 2019 between the ages of 19 and 21 before Dutch club Heerenven signed him thanks to excellent scouting reports on his abilities from independent scouts.
One season later, CSKA Moscow would pay €12 million for him, making him one of Heerenven’s most profitable investments. After a brilliant showing in the COVID year and the years that followed, the Russia-Ukraine war led to him having to find other clubs.
Hertha Berlin in Germany signed him on loan for the 2022/23 season and now, he plays at Royal Antwerp, where he gave Barcelona a night they will never forget.
Ejuke credits an experience with Liverpool during his academy days as the reason he is staying afloat in European football.
“I was allowed to train with the [Liverpool] youth for a week. I started dreaming, I could see myself playing in the first team, but things didn’t go as expected,” he said.
“I wasn’t good enough, it turned out, and I had to start all over again. That was quite difficult, because you realise that you don’t get opportunities like that often. I felt like I had disappointed my family.
Chidera Ejuke in the UCL vs Barcelona
Minutes played: 80
Passing acc: 89%
Ground duels: 17(12)
Key passes: 3
Collective sigh of relief in Barca camp after he was taken off😅 pic.twitter.com/9BpC7pkBGd
— Sports Radio Brila FM (@Brilafm889) December 14, 2023
“But okay, that’s life. Get up and get going, for the love of the game. And that experience came in handy when I was able to return to Europe two years later.”
Chidera Ejuke national team career
Chidera Ejuke had stints in the youth sides of the Nigeria team. His move to Russia in 2020 helped him gain favour in the eyes of the Super Eagles handler, who called him up for a friendly against Tunisia in October 2020, where he made his official debut.
He was part of the AFCON 2021 delegation and has his eyes set on playing in AFCON 2023.
Chidera Ejuke salary, net worth
Chidera Ejuke's salary is reported to be around £27,000-per-week. This is the most that the 25-year-old has earned from football as a career.
As he continues to improve himself, he is certain to get bigger and better offers. He is yet to be a millionaire, with his total net worth estimated to be around £800,000 – £1.3 million.
Chidera Ejuke stats this season
This article was most recently revised and updated 2 months ago