The Super Eagles will be seeking a fourth continental title at the 33rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations, and one of the players that will be key to the side’s hopes is Chidera Ejuke.
In a squad that has been decimated by injuries and withdrawals, Ejuke’s performance will be vital for Nigeria if they are to win a fourth AFCON title.
But who is the talented winger?
Ejuke is currently with Russian Premier League side CSKA Moscow, but he has had quite a remarkable journey even though he is only 23.
The 23-year-old’s talents were first spotted at the U-17 level, but the youngster never got to represent Nigeria at any age-grade competition.
He didn’t make the Golden Eaglets that won the 2015 u-17 World Cup and was ineligible to represent the squad that failed to make it to the world stage two years later.
Ejuke also had a failed trial with English Premier League club Liverpool. Following the disappointment of failing to play for the Golden Eaglets and Liverpool, Ejuke got his chance with Nigerian club Gombe United.
However, he only stayed at the club for a few months before moving to Europe, where he signed for the Norwegian football club Vålerenga Fotball.
Ejuke’s impressive performance in Norway caught the attention of Dutch football club Heerenveen, who paid 2m euros to sign him in 2019.
But just like his time at Gombe United, Ejuke spent just a year at Heerenveen before CSKA Moscow snapped him up for 12m euros.
Ejuke’s displays at CSKA earned him his Super Eagles debut in October 2020. But his talents only caught the eye of many Nigerians this season.
The 23-year-old has been CSKA’s best player this season, winning the club’s player of the month in the last three months.
At the international level, he is already a fan-favourite because of his ability to move past defenders with ease, even though he is yet to have a good run of games in the team.
But with new interim boss Austin Eguavoen, a big fan of the skilful winger, Ejuke is set to play a vital role in the Super Eagles AFCON 2021 campaign.