Three years ago, Terem Moffi was a name unknown in Ligue 1, even to his own compatriots, as he navigated the obscurity of the Lithuanian league.
However, on Friday night, Moffi’s star outshone Kylian Mbappe’s in Paris, as he led OGC Nice to a historic victory over the champions.
In one of his most dominant displays in France, Moffi reintroduced himself to Paris Saint-Germain fans and transformed a cozy evening into one of their worst nightmares at the Parc des Princes.
The Calabar-born forward not only scored twice and provided an assist but also managed to unsettle PSG’s superstar, Kylian Mbappé, both on and off the pitch.
In Moffi’s defence, he warned PSG of what to come. The 22-year-old – who had three goals in five games against the Parisians – scored his first goal of the season just before the international break.
To their detriment, PSG failed to heed Moffi’s warning.
And no one should blame him or try to steal his spotlight as he looks to enjoy undoubtedly one of his finest moment in Ligue 1. Mbappe tried, though.
The enigmatic Terem Moffi
Moffi’s journey to Ligue 1 was unconventional. Born in Nigeria, he travelled to England, where he joined the Buckswood Football Academy.
From there, his path meandered through Lithuania and Belgium before finally landing in France. After amassing 35 goals and seven assists in 90 games for Lorient, it came as no surprise when OGC Nice invested €25 million to acquire him, first on loan in January and then permanently in the summer.
At the Parc des Princes, Moffi showed why Nice paid such a handsome fee for his signature. He is a consummate goalscorer and he can also provide for others to score.
And as his faceoff with Mbappe revealed, the Nigerian forward can perhaps even be a provocateur.
The French media over the last few days have dwelt more on his “bad behaviour” at PSG, paying little attention to his brilliance.
But that is not who Moffi is.
Moffi’s charismatic character
Moffi’s likable character easily shines through in his rare interviews. He does not shy away from humour and self-criticism.
When discussing his school days, he candidly admits, “I wasn’t stupid, but I didn’t put in the effort. If I had given just 2% of what I give on the pitch, I’d have been a genius.”
At Nice, he’s embraced as a teammate, but on the opposing side, he’s a formidable force.
Former Inter Milan center-back Milan Škriniar can attest to this after a challenging evening on the pitch, which earned him stiff criticism from French media. Mbappé, on the other hand, engaged in a heated exchange with Moffi over his goal celebration.
Mr. ‘Nobody’ no more
It is no longer news that Mbappe and Moffi clashed during the match between PSG and OGC Nice.
What unfolded during the match was both a clash of egos and a glimpse into Moffi’s rising stardom.
Moffi scored, removed his shirt, and displayed it to the jeering crowd at the Parc des Princes. Kylian Mbappé, seemingly offended, confronted him with words like, “Show respect.”
Other reports suggested that Mbappé even called Moffi a “Nobody”.
A spat ensued, and Moffi continued to provoke the French superstar on social media.
A visit to Moffi’s profile reveals a recent post featuring the same shirt celebration with the caption “Mr. ‘Nobody'” — and a nod to Conor McGregor’s famous words after a victory: “I knocked out everyone on the roster. I would like to take this opportunity to apologize… to absolutely no one.”
Moffi rightly does not feel the need to apologise; he’s rapidly building a name for himself.
From arriving in France as an unknown, he’s now one of the most feared forwards in the division.
Last year, he ended Ligue 1 with 18 goals, and this season, he has already notched up three in the first five matchdays.
Even Mbappé now knows him and the World Cup winner will admit, in the comfort of his bedroom, that the Super Eagles striker is undoubtedly the player to watch in Ligue 1 now.
Chasing Ligue 1 stars
Besides his goal-scoring prowess, another intriguing statistic highlights Moffi’s potential: he’s the second-highest recipient of through passes in Ligue 1.
This means he’s not just a scorer; he excels at reading the game and positioning himself effectively. Only Mbappé ranks higher.
Even in Expected Goals (excluding penalties), Moffi stands among the Top 4 in the French league, trailing the likes of Mbappé, Ben Yedder, and Aubameyang — household names in football.
Even Moffi’s harshest critics have to agree that the youngster is close to being the star he aspires to become.
Settling the score with Qatar
Interestngly, that evening at the Parc des Princes was not just about football; it was a moment of sweet revenge for Moffi against Qatar.
A score needed settling since his childhood.
At the age of ten, Moffi had auditioned for the Aspire Academy, the foundation of Qatar’s sports development program.
In 2009, they acknowledged his talent but turned him away, stating they sought older players. It was a heart-wrenching rejection that haunted him for years.
Back then, he felt like a “Mr. Nobody.”
Today, in the football capitals of Paris and Doha, his name is etched into the memories of many.
Moffi, the once “Mr. Nobody,” is now a name known and respected across the football world and that is one thing even Mbappe cannot shut down.