There was a time Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi were the two brightest upcoming stars in the Super Eagles, but the Leicester City man’s spot has now been taken over by another kid on the block- Samuel Chukwueze.
The Villarreal youngster is touted to become Nigeria’s biggest star and join Alex Iwobi as two of the Super Eagles’ most marketable exports. One even feels the duo could turn out to be the Wizkid and Davido of Nigerian football.
There is nothing that gets a large section of young Nigerians worked up than a Wizkid vs Davido argument.
The two young musicians have dominated the Nigerian music scene for almost a decade and continue to push the envelope with their record-breaking album charting music.
Before Burna Boy came to change the status quo, they were the biggest singers from not just Nigeria, but from Africa. Even with Burna Boy’s current dominance with his Africa Giant album, Wizkid and Davido are still considered as the biggest artists in Africa having done it consistently over the years.
The two are the most followed artists on Instagram with Davido leading the way with 12.1m followers while Wizkid has 8.2m followers.
They are also the face of some of the biggest brands in the country. They are both Pepsi ambassadors while Wizkid also serves as an ambassador for United Bank for Africa, and according to reports, it is the most expensive deal signed by an artist in Africa.
Davido meanwhile is the brand ambassador of the popular phone manufacturer, Infinix. The two have maintained a healthy rivalry and that has helped them to become the global stars they are now.
While they are putting the face of Nigeria on the world map through music, football could see a version of its Wizkid-Davido in the form of Alex Iwobi and Samuel Chukwueze.
Iwobi has been in the Super Eagles set up since 2016 and is arguably the biggest star in Nigerian football right now, despite his recent move from Arsenal to Everton. His 17.6billion Naira transfer is the biggest ever by any Nigerian footballer.
However, Chukwueze is a new kid on the block who came to the limelight last season when he dazzled for Villarreal in the Spanish LaLiga. His profile grew a notch higher when he starred for the country at the 2019 Africa Cup Of Nations where Nigeria finished third.
At a point, Iheanacho was the next biggest star in the Super Eagles, but his career has taken a downward turn which has allowed Chukwueze to take over the mantle.
Alongside Iwobi, they are arguably the biggest exports in Nigerian football right now. According to Nigeria’s top journalist and CampsBay Media director, Lolade Adewuyi, Chukwueze will become the country’s most marketable player despite the presence of established stars like Wilfried Ndidi and William Troost Ekong.
A creative Creative Director at SO&U, Chris Ogunlowo told Soccernet.ng that Chukwueze is likely to be the face of Nigerian football and that of top brands because the Nigerian audience sees him as a hero and symbol of possibilities.
“For a time like this, I believe Nigerian football and general audience need a hero, someone that can be the symbol of possibilities, of grit, and a charming distraction from our national problems,” Ogunlowo told Soccernet.ng.
“His team can position him to be the guy. He should be approachable, playful, allowed to make silly mistakes, etc. He’s young too, which makes him a magnet for advertisers.
“He should stay true to himself and have a PR team that can help manage his image,” Ogunlowo concluded.
And it turns out to be true, as the top brands have started coming in for him. Just a few weeks ago, he signed a contract with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports, making him the first Nigerian player to sign a deal with the American business mogul. This exposes him to several new opportunities and visibility to new audiences beyond the pitch.
Immediately after he was announced by Roc Nation, DJ Khaled, one of the global music stars managed by the agency, posted a video welcoming Chukwueze to the stable. It transported Chukwueze to another stratosphere as a player brand.
— Roc Nation Sports (@RocNationSports) August 1, 2019
He was also listed by UEFA among the 50 youngsters to watch in the new 2019/2020 season. He underlined this rating with a delicious goal for Villareal in their season-opening 4-4 draw against Granada on August 17.
23-year-old Iwobi, who moved from Arsenal to Everton on deadline day, may not have a deal with Roc Nation Sports, but he’s still the biggest football star in Nigeria.
Aside from being Austin Jay Jay Okocha’s nephew, playing in the English Premier League with former club Arsenal made Iwobi more popular with Nigerians.
The Premier League has a large following in Nigeria and Arsenal as a club are one of the most followed clubs due to the past exploits of Nwankwo Kanu. When his move to Everton was announced, a lot of the club’s followers were saddened that Naija’s golden boy was leaving his boyhood club.
With the following he has in Nigeria, the Toffees are expected to see a lot of Nigerians following their matches.
While Iwobi may be the country’s biggest star right now, he could be usurped by Chukwueze in the nearest future when he makes a move to one of the top clubs.
Just as Wizkid and Davido are breaking music records, Iwobi and Chukwueze will do the same for Nigerian football.