Julius Aghahowa, born 12 February 1982 is 34 years old today. The former Nigerian international popularly known as ‘Agha-wonder’ due to his knack for scoring out-of-the-ordinary goals left many footballing loving fans countless memorable moments before calling it quits with the beautiful game in April 2013.
SoccerNet Nigeria highlights the things fans have found difficult to forget about the bullish striker.
1. Aghahowa’s pace
Not only was the Benin-born striker full of pace, he was also incredibly strong and hard to shake off the ball. While he was a bit technical and could protect the ball when passed to his feet, his preferred move was to launch the ball forward and have him chase after it. Very few defenders could match him stride for stride.
2. His back-flips when he scores goals
Aghahowa only scored 14 goals for Nigeria’s senior national team in 32 games but every single one of those was celebrated with several back flips. And fans loved the sight of him doing it. No other Super Eagle had ever tried it before him and the likes of Taiye Taiwo, Obinna Nsofor and Obafemi Martins only took after him.
3. His time in Ukraine
At a time, Julius Aghahowa was Nigeria’s biggest export to Ukraine as he painted their league red with goals. Fans loved to read about his scoring exploits, which appeared to come in every week. And it was no surprise when he became the first foreign national outside of the former Soviet Union to emerge among the best scorers in the Ukrainian Premier League. He would spend six years playing for Shakhtar Donetsk.
4. Aghahowa’s goal at the World Cup
Of the 14 goals that the former Bendel Insurance targetman netted for the Super Eagles, the most memorable has to be the headed-stunner against Sweden at the 2002 World Cup. Sandwiched between two defenders and the goaltender, Aghahowa ran courageously to a Joseph Yobo cross to head home a beautiful goal. It was Nigeria’s only goal at the tournament and Aghahowa’s only strike at a World Cup. Sweden won the game 1-2 but Aghahowa had given the world a glimpse of his pretty back-flips.
5. Nigeria’s late equalizer against Senegal
The 2002 African Nations Cup was Aghahowa’s debut tournament for the Super Eagles and it was where he earned the love and trust of most Nigerians. Aghahowa emerged Nigeria’s top goal-scorer at the tournament scoring three of the Super Eagles’ 5 goals in Mali.
The most unforgettable of which was that last gasp leveler against the Teranga Lions. Racing to a hopeful punt forward, which appear well shielded by a Lion, Aghahowa managed to smuggle himself between the defender and the goalkeeper and poke the ball into the net, in the 89th minute. From Yobe to Yenogoa, fans erupted in jubilation. Sadly, Nigeria would go on to lose the game in extra time.
We join fans all over the world to wish Aghahowa a Happy Birthday!!!