PROFILE: The promising youngster netted his first Serie A goal at the weekend and can develop into a key player for club and country.
Sadiq Umar scoring his first Serie A goal for Roma against Genoa
Roma have won the Seria A three times in their history, the last one in the 2000-01 season and ended the 2014-2015 season behind champions Juventus.
This season, the Italian giants are counting on the quality of stars like Daniele De Rossi, Edin Dzeko, Mohamed Salah, Gervinho and the ageless Francesco Totti to push their hunt for a first league title in 15 years and progress to the final stages of the Champions League.
In their rank also is a young Nigerian already tipped for greatness.
Farmed out by Abuja Football College just over a year and a half ago, Umar began his European sojourn at Spezia Calcio, a club that plays in the Serie B.
The Kaduna-born Sadiq, whose father played for the famous DIC Bees of Kaduna, wasted little time in settling down in Italy and was soon the talk of town with his silky touches and finishing abilities.
The gangling 1.92m teenager, whose physique and style reminds one of Nwankwo Kanu, scored a record-breaking 26 goals in 27 games in the Italian youth league, generating interests from all of Italy’s biggest clubs.
But it was AS Roma who won the race for his signatures, snapping him up first on a year-long loan deal with the option to commit him to a permanent contract worth about 1.7 million Euros should the lad impressed.
And impressed he did. After only 13 games, the youngster had banged in 8 goals for the youth team and assisted a few more, including three goals in four UEFA Youth League games with two assists. Roma manager Rudi Garcia was so amazed by the 18 year-old’s quality that he quickly promoted him to the first team.
His Serie A debut followed soon after. The 18-year-old came on for striker Juan Iturbe in the 89th minute as AS Roma were held to a 2-2 away draw at Bologna in a highly entertaining game.
Roma’s struggles have been well documented this campaign after starting the league season ever so well but have gradually slipped out of the title race and the Champions League places.
And on Sunday at home to Genoa, when Rudi Garcia needed a saviour after watching his side play the last 15 minutes with ten men, he turned to his Nigerian goal-machine.
Umar Sadiq duly obliged and headed in his first ever Serie A goal within minutes of being introduced as an 82nd minute substitute. The strike rubber-stamped a 2-0 victory for Roma, ending a seven-match winless streak in all competitions and easing pressure on their embattled manager.
That goal, coming in just his third senior appearance all from the bench, may just be the beginning of another legend in the ilk of retired former CAF Footballer of the Year, Nwankwo Kanu.
A hugely talented Nigerian youngster is destined for greatness. He is not Kelechi Iheanacho or Victor Osimhen.
I give you Umar Sadiq.