In the blink of an eye, Divine Nwachukwu has become the talk of the town in Nigeria’s football landscape.
Super Eagles head coach Jose Peseiro recently extended a coveted international call-up to this talented youngster, instantly propelling him into the spotlight.
Born on May 25, 2003, Nwachukwu has been hailed as a player of immense potential, a shining star of the future. And the time appears set for the youngster to make his impact for the three-time African champions.
Early beginnings – A promising path taken
Divine Nwachukwu embarked on his football journey as a forward with the national U15 team, leading them to a stellar performance at the African Youth Games in Morocco.
As captain of the national U15 squad, known as the Future Eagles, Divine’s talent was evident, hinting at a future filled with national glory.
The youngster duly progressed to the U17 national team, and at 15, he was one of the youngest members of the Golden Eaglets squad at the 2019 Africa U17 Cup of Nations and the subsequent World Cup.
Although primarily appearing as a substitute in both competitions, making a combined five appearances, his talent was evident to close watchers of that team.
Notable names like Olakunle Olusegun, Wisdom Ubani, and Akinkunmi Amoo grabbed most of the attention in the Golden Eaglets’ campaign, finishing in fourth place at Tanzania 2019, with Nigeria’s hopes dashed in the Round of 16 by the Netherlands at the World Cup hosted by Brazil.
Unlike Amoo and Olusegun, Nwachukwu failed to secure moves to European clubs after turning 18.
But the youngster made the bold decision to feature for Bendel Insurance in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) instead.
NPFL brilliance – Lighting up the domestic stage
It is a decision that has paid off in no small measure.
Nwachukwu’s debut campaign in the NPFL with Bendel Insurance has been breathtaking. He played a pivotal role in the team’s remarkable 26-match unbeaten run in all competitions, which was only recently halted by a 2-1 defeat to Rivers United at the Championship Playoffs.
Throughout the regular season, Nwachukwu showcased his skills, never missing a game and contributing with one goal and four crucial assists.
At the Super Six, Nwachukwu turned into a monstrous beast.
Unstoppable from midfield, the former youth international dazzled onlookers, including Super Eagles tactician Jose Peseiro, with three goals in Insurance’s first four games.
A big-game player, Nwachukwu scored against defending champions Rivers United and netted the equalizer against eventual winners Enyimba International.
While Bendel Insurance left the Championship Playoffs empty-handed, their mercurial midfielder won the hearts of many fans and the most memorable prize of all – a Super Eagles call-up.
Super Eagles invite – A dream fulfilled
The highly applauded news arrived when Divine Nwachukwu was named in the 23-man roster for the Super Eagles’ upcoming AFCON 2023 qualifier against Sierra Leone.
Glad to have made it to the national team @NGSuperEagles squad for the AFCON qualifying match against Sierra Leone.— Nwachukwu Divine (@Divineho17) June 9, 2023
Thanks to my people at @BendelInsurance, to my family and fans across the world.
Let's keep flying together.
📸 @Adelekeayoola1 pic.twitter.com/kW5YWsouis
Jose Peseiro, thrilled by his excellent output, included Nwachukwu among the four home-based players for the crucial Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Sierra Leone next weekend.
The youngster has already arrived at the Super Eagles camp to mix it up with the big boys.
If Nwachukwu takes the field against the Leone Stars, he will join the elite ranks of the Golden Eaglets’ class of 2019 to have featured for the Super Eagles, following in the footsteps of Red Bull Salzburg’s Samson Tijani.
What has been said of Nwachukwu?
FIFA U-17 World Cup-winning coach Manu Garba has expressed delight over Divine Nwachukwu’s well-deserved invitation to the senior national team.
Having nurtured him while with the 2019 Golden Eaglets, Garba commends Nwachukwu’s progress and lauds his exceptional skills.
“Divine Nwachukwu is one of the players who played under me in the 2019 Golden Eaglets. He went to the WAFU tournament, the AFCON before the U17 World Cup in Brazil,” Manu Garba said.
“He was a player we got from Riverline and the national U15 team. Then he wasn’t a starter, but he’s a player that has great prospects.
“Of course, we cannot doubt his progression because right now, he’s getting into his right element. He’s a good striker who has a bright future.”
Super Eagles debut prospects
Nwachukwu will likely not start the match against Sierra Leone.
Jose Peseiro’s number-one choice for the attacking midfield role remains Alex Iwobi.
Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho and Southampton’s Joe Aribo can also do a decent job there. So it will be difficult for Nwachukwu to be in the starting lineup versus Sierra Leone.
However, the youngster can be an option from the bench, especially in the closing stages if Nigeria have a healthy lead secured.
Versatile as ever, Nwachukwu can also play as a winger, which could increase his chances of making an appearance as a substitute, especially with Ademola Lookman and Moses Simon far from their best form at the moment.
The match against Sierra Leone looms as a significant moment for Nwachukwu. While he may face tough competition for a starting position, his inclusion in the squad speaks volumes about his abilities and the belief Peseiro has in his talent.
Should he make his senior debut, it will mark a milestone in his career and solidify his status as a rising star on the international stage.