The Super Eagles have had a lot of fullbacks in the past, but Jamilu Collins will surely go down as one of the most consistent performers for the national team.
Born in Kaduna, Collins’ career has risen steadily from struggling to find his feet in the back ends of European football- the Croatian lower divisions in 2012, to being a mainstay in the Super Eagles defence.
The 27-year-old left wing-back left Nigerian shores in 2012 with the dream of making a name for himself in Europe.
He signed for Croatian giants HNK Rijeka in the summer of 2012 but was loaned out to lower league side NK Pomorac.
However, after his one-year loan stint, the Kaduna-born star could still not make the first team at Rijeka. Collins spent two more seasons away on loan, including short stints at the Rijeka junior team.
Earlier in his career, Collins was often used as a midfielder, and occasionally he played in more forward positions.
Nevertheless, his first real taste of senior-level football came during his six-month loan stint at NK Istra. He made his debut for the side in July 2016 in a 1-0 loss to Osijek. Collins made ten more appearances before returning to his parent club Rijeka.
The Nigeria international spent the next season on another loan deal at Sibenik before finally calling it time on his stay in Croatia.
Collins then accepted the German challenge when he signed for Paderborn in September 2017.
And within a year, his ability shone, and he became a mainstay in the Paderborn defence. Collins made 34 Bundesliga 2. appearances, helping them gain promotion to the German top-flight after four years. However, they got relegated that same season.
On the international scene, Collins’ career with the Super Eagles kicked off under former coach Gernot Rohr in Nigeria’s 2-1 victory over Lybia in October 2018.
Since then, Collins has never looked back. He comfortably displaced Brian Idowu, who was the first-choice left-back at the time.
The Paderborn man has gone on to make 26 more appearances for the Super Eagles. He played for Nigeria at the last Africa Cup of Nations which Nigeria claimed the bronze medal.
He could have been the first choice at this year’s AFCON, but he arrived late to camp due to issues with his club.
However, Collins made one appearance for Nigeria in the 2-0 victory over Guinea-Bissau. Unfortunately, he was on the bench when Nigeria crashed out of the AFCON following the loss to Tunisia.
Nevertheless, the Kaduna-born star will hope for brighter days as the Super Eagles have the World Cup qualifiers against Ghana in March.