A Prophet has little honour in his hometown – Mark 6:4
Anthony Nwakaeme is a journeyman. His life and playing career has been about rising above obstacles. When he plays, you can have a feel of the hunger. The venom in his shot is a testament to a man who has fought rejection. The power in his game tells a story of the desire to rise.
And he has risen! After difficult years traversing the strange and murky waters of Romanian football, he soon found a better abode in Israel.
First featuring for Hapoel Rana’ana in the Israeli top flight, he joined Hapoel Beer Sheva and alongside Nigerian teammate John Ogu, he turned the team to Europe campaigners.
They won the league title and dominated Israeli football, known to be in the hands of Maccabi Haifa, Hapoel Tel Aviv and others in the past. Nwakaeme had 77 goal contributions in 134 games in his time at Hapoel Beer Sheva. His exit proved a colossal loss for the Israeli side but a higher calling was in Turkey.
The Storm in the Black Sea
Since moving to northeastern Turkey where he has found an even better lease of life in Trabzon, a city known for its cultural mix and diversity, Nwakaeme has become the storm in the Black Sea.
The one-cap Super Eagles forward is as physically strong as any attacker any defender can face and typically deployed from the left side of a forward three, his trademark shots make up nominations for goal of the season almost every season.
He’s one of the most-feared forwards in Turkey, where he has found fans in awe of his skill and prowess. In spite of his injury concerns, Nwakaeme’s statistics have been stellar for Trabzonspor.
In 141 games at the club, he has 84 goal contributions. With many vital goals from his wing, he is also a happy provider forming a part of a dangerous attacking lineup this season for Trabzonspor.
Nwakaeme’s arrival at the club in 2018 was a significant boost to the Black Sea Storm’s title credentials. While they have constantly knocked on the door of their first league title in more than three decades, they needed a catalyst for the extra push and the Nigerian’s best season in Trabzon culminated into a league title – the club’s first in 38 years.
So great is his contribution to the club and the city that he has been immortalised by fans and he stands as a cultural heritage and a man who has brought possibilities to Trabzon.
It’s difficult to ignore a man who has contributed 75 goals in 117 league games in four years.
This season, he has 11 goals and 10 assists in 27 games, enough to guide Trabzonspor to the long-elusive league title.
His contract negotiations have stalled and assurances over his future at the club are yet to be secured. With his contract ending this season, eyes and ears have been prowling in Trabzon to steal the attacker.
Some of Turkey’s biggest traditional sides including Fenerbache have thrown their hats in the ring. At 33, a move abroad must be on the cards for the attacker as he nears the age to milk the rewards of his years of toil.
Opportunities were hard to come by in Nigeria, with his only appearance being some uninspiring minutes against Algeria in a dead rubber game in 2017. He was hardly seen as decent enough for the Super Eagles but he is revered in Turkey – he’s god of a city, and a recently crowned football king of a country.