There are a number of Nigerian stars making waves in the Scottish Premiership, but one has caught the attention of one of the greatest ever strikers in the game.
Liverpool hero Sir Kenny Dalglish has outlined the outstanding qualities of Rangers defender Calvin Bassey, applauding the youngster’s improvement since joining the Gers.
Little was known about Bassey when he arrived in Scotland in 2020 from the Leicester City academy after the then-Rangers manager Steven Gerrard convinced him to make the switch.
The versatile fullback showed glimpses of his immense potential here and there as the Light Blues romped to the Premiership title last year.
Bassey has, however, shown significant improvement this season, especially under new Gers’ boss Giovanni van Bronkhorst who has displayed even more faith in the 22-year-old. The Dutch tactician has deployed Bassey at centre-back, left fullback, and left wing-back, with the CM Futsal Academy product excelling in all.
Bassey’s most significant challenge to date has to be the Europa League knockout round fixture that pitted Rangers against formidable German foe Borussia Dortmund.
But the young defender showed he was up to the standard as he featured first as a centre-back and later as a wing-back to help the Gers claim a historic aggregate win over the Bundesliga giants.
That continental contest convinced Dalglish that the Rangers’ number three is the real deal.
And the three-time European Cup winner with Liverpool is full of praise for Bassey’s composure and quality on the ball.
“But another youngster also caught my eye, and I have to say Calvin Bassey was outstanding,” Dalglish wrote in the Sunday Post.
“Signed by Steven Gerrard for a development fee from Leicester City, he has improved very nicely.
“He has just turned 22, but he played with maturity, and showed his positional sense and tactical knowledge to switch seamlessly from left centre-back to left wing-back in the second half.
“That move from Giovanni at half-time altered the flow of the game. It disrupted Dortmund, and gave Rangers more confidence.
“Calvin has lovely feet, a great turn of pace and is powerfully built. He, most definitely, is one to watch.”
Bassey’s good club form is yet to be replicated on the international scene, though.
Born in Italy to Nigerian parents and raised in England, Bassey was eligible to represent any of the three countries.
The youngster, however, committed his international future to Nigeria in November 2021, when he accepted a call-up for the Super Eagles’ 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
He did not make his debut, though, and was not included in the Super Eagles squad that represented Nigeria at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon in January.