Super Eagles Star Named African Player of the Year in La Liga

Super Eagles Star Named African Player of the Year in La Liga
Credit: Iconsport

The Nigeria football news scene is abuzz with excitement over the presentation of the best African player in LaLiga award to Nigeria national team forward, Samuel Chukwueze.

The Nigeria U-17 legend finished the season with six goals and five assists, a big improvement on his numbers since his debut for the Yellow Submarine in 2018. In all competitions, he finished with 13 goals and 11 assists, making him one of Villarreal’s most important players in the just-concluded season.

The 24-year-old forward was honoured by LaLiga for his improvement and his exploits with the award which was only introduced last season.

Chukwueze beats Europa League champions to La Liga Africa MVP award

Samuel Chukwueze, who has been at Villarreal since 2018, has finally come into his own. Many now see the kid who, alongside Serie A striker of the year Victor Osimhen, led Nigeria U-17 class of 2015 to a defence of their FIFA U-17 World Cup title which was won by the class of 2013 led by Leicester City player of the season Kelechi Iheanacho and Taiwo Awoniyi.

The Spanish top-flight fans – 30,000 of them who voted for the winner of the award – believed that he outplayed a number of African players in the league. His major competitors for the award were Morocco 2022 FIFA World Cup heroes and Sevilla men Youssef En-Nesyri and Yassine Bounou, and Ghana international Iñaki Williams, whose incredible league appearance streak came to an end this season after a brief injury kept him on the sidelines for a while.

Chukwueze’s performance against Real Madrid early in 2023 was especially iconic and is believed to be one of the key reasons that the votes were swung in his favour. The Diamond Football Academy youth graduate scored a brace and won the Man of the Match award in front of Los Blancos fans at the Santiago Bernabeu, getting a small ovation at the end of the game.

It also led to the club indicating their interest in signing him, a news report which took the Nigeria football news scene by storm.

Chukwueze is the first Nigerian to win the award and this is a big morale booster for the Super Eagles, who saw some setbacks with players like Wilfred Ndidi and Terem Moffi.

“I’m happy to have won this award,” Chukwueze says

Chukwueze thanked his teammates and the voting bloc for the award in his acceptance speech (via LaLiga official website).

The winger, who features frequently in transfer news for this summer thanks to his amazing season, said: “I feel so happy to win this award.

“I’ve worked very hard this season, but I want to thank my teammates for making it possible. Without them this wouldn’t have been possible for me… and the coach [Quique Setién] too. When the coach believes in you, and gives you the confidence to play and enjoy yourself, it really motivates you.”

LaLiga’s Africa Managing Director Marcos Pelegrin also praised the AFCON 2023 squad hopeful for his great season, saying: “We would like to warmly congratulate Samuel Chukwueze for winning the 2022/2023 LaLiga Santander African MVP Award.

“He has been one of the stars of LaLiga for a number of years now and he is fully deserving of the LaLiga Santander African MVP Award.”

This article was most recently revised and updated 5 months ago

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