On September 19, 2020, PSV Eindhoven were playing a 1-1 draw at Groningen as at the 53rd minute in what was their first match of the new Eredivisie season.
The farmers had taken the lead in the 34th minute through Cody Gakpo, but Tomas Suslov levelled matters for Groningen eight minutes after the break.
But two minutes before the home side’s equaliser, PSV manager, Roger Schmidt had made an interesting substitution, bringing on a teenager for Sam Lammers, who now plays for Atalanta in Italy.
The substitution appeared to be a gamble as at then, but it paid off as the teenager produced two assists that helped PSV seal a 3-1 victory.
That teenage sensation that provided two assists on that Sunday afternoon was Noni Madueke. That match itself was not Madueke’s first appearance for PSV’s first team, but it was the game that brought him to public consciousness.
Who is Noni Madueke?
Madueke was born in London on March 10, 2002, to parents of Nigerian origin. He started his career with Crystal Palace Youth team in 2014 before joining Tottenham’s Youth side a few months later.
While with Tottenham’s Youth side, Madueke’s talent was quickly spotted and was named Spurs U-16 captain.
That was not all though, as he also made his debut for the U-18 side at the age of just 15. After he received the Golden Ball at the 2017 Sonnenland Cup, a lot of clubs took notice of his talents.
Manchester United were the club to make an offer, while Spurs also offered him a new deal. But it was PSV, who eventually signed the 18-year-old in 2018.
It was a surprising move given the Red Devils are one of the biggest clubs. However, Madueke revealed he chose PSV because he was inspired by Jadon Sancho, who has gone on to become one of the best youngsters in football after leaving Manchester City for Borussia Dortmund.
‘I looked at the young players that have moved like Jadon Sancho, Reiss Nelson on loan [to Hoffenheim from Arsenal], Madueke told Daily Mail
‘And there are so many young players in first teams at the top level like at PSV, Ajax. ‘Players like Frenkie De Jong, all of these guys. I thought if I want to get to the first team as quickly as possible, then I have to move from Tottenham and come to PSV.
Madueke added that he moved because young players find it difficult to break into the first team in England.
‘There have been so many talented English players that have been stuck around 23s squads. People are now starting to realise that if they want to play and they’re good enough then why not go abroad if the opportunity is there?
After his move to PSV in 2018, he joined the club’s U-17 side, but a year later he was promoted to the U-19 team.
In the 2019-2020 campaign, Madueke scored seven times and provided eight assists in the U-19 league while he had a hand in five goals (four goals and one assist) in the Keuken Kampioen Divisie.
As a result of his impressive performances for the U-19 team, he was promoted to club’s first team that same season and made four top-flight appearances before the Eredivisie was abruptly ended due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Ironically, his last game of the 2019/2020 campaign also came against Groningen, which was also his first start for PSV’s first team.
After that clash, he signed a new deal which would keep him at the club in 2024 and was also promoted to the first team permanently.
It has turned out perfectly with the 18-year-old scoring four times and registering three assists in 11 league games so far.
Not only that, but he also has three goal contributions (one goal and two assists) in the Europa League this season.
Madueke goalscoring record at Spurs Youth sides was impressive, but he has taken it a level higher in what’s just his first full season in the top-flight.
The England youth star, who can play anywhere in the attacking position, has credited former Manchester United striker, Ruud Van Nistelrooy for honing his finishing skills.
Van Nistelrooy, who is one of Premier League’s prolific goalscorer, is now PSV’s U-19 coach and has been praised by Madueke.
“Ruud helped me a lot last year, taking my game to the next level and now I am just trying to get better every day, he told The Sun.
“I have always scored nice goals, but I know I needed to score easier ones — being in the right place at the right time — striker-type finishes.
“Ruud has been teaching me how to get into those positions more and, being a Manchester United fan, I know he is the master of that.”
Aside from his goalscoring prowess, Madueke is also blessed with speed while his dazzling feet has also proved to be a problem for Eredivisie defenders.
His ability to also find spaces in tight corners is also a delight to watch. His versatility is also one of the qualities that makes him special.
This season, he has played as a striker and as a right-winger on four occasions each while he has also played behind the striker and on the left-wing.
And as a result of his continuous rise in profile, Madueke’s international future has been a subject of debate. As stated earlier, Madueke was born in England to Nigerian parents, which makes him eligible for both nations.
He has however played for England at youth level- although he recently said that he is open to playing for Nigeria.
Should he continue in this trajectory, then whoever wins the race for his services will be adding a real gem to their squad.