At 29, there are probably two more Africa Cup of Nations tournaments left in the speedy legs of Ahmed Musa. Still, even if he quits international football today, his legacy for the three-time African champions is already secured.
There were signs that Musa was unique when he burst onto the scene as a precociously talented winger. Still, no one could have predicted that his journey would take a course that would elevate him into the class of Nigeria’s greatest.
Musa was the most exciting teenager in the Nigeria Professional Football League in the late 2000s when he came out of the GBS Academy to spend a year on loan at Kano Pillars.
The wonder-kid scored 18 league goals for Maisu Gida, the most in a single season of any NPFL player at the time, earning a move to Dutch side VV Venlo.
In less than two years, Musa became one of the most sought-after Nigerian youngsters in Europe, but it was Russian giants CSKA Moscow who won the race for his signature, sealing a €5 million move in 2012.
After four years and six titles in Moscow, Musa became a CSKA fan favourite.
And after a club-record switch to Leicester City in 2016 failed to bring out the best in Musa, the Super Eagles star was back in Moscow briefly before heading to Saudi Arabia.
At Al Nassr, Musa added the Saudi Professional League title and the Saudi Super Cup in 2019 to his trophy cabinet before returning to Europe with Turkey’s Fatih Karagumruk.
Despite his many impressive exploits at the club level, it is with the Super Eagles that Musa attained legendary status.
The former JUTH FC starlet made his international debut in 2010 and has since amassed 105 caps – the most of any Nigerian player in history, beating the record set by ex-Everton defender Joseph Yobo.
In that time, Musa left his mark at the FIFA World Cup, finding the net at the 2014 and 2018 editions to become both the first Nigerian to score more than once in a match at the Mundial and the first to score in two different competitions.
An even more significant mark was made, though at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations tournament in South Africa, where he played his part as the Super Eagles lifted their third continental title.
Only just 29, Musa will likely still be around and active when the next Nations Cup kicks off in Ivory Coast next year.
And another triumph for the Super Eagles could see Musa become the first-ever Nigerian to win the Afcon gold medal twice.
Whether that target is hit or not, Musa’s status as a Super Eagles legend is sealed. And he would be the latest of a long line that already produced Segun Odegbami, George Finidi, Austin Okocha, and Mikel Obi, among others. And what a well-deserved accolade that would be.