Not so many can flash their mind back to four years ago when the all conquering Nigeria Under-17 team of 2013 was been assembled by coach Manu Garba.
In 2012 one name stood head and shoulders above his peers, Ibrahim Alhassan aka Mu’azam was the talk of the team. He earned himself the nickname “New Kanu”, given to him by no other than the former Sport Minister of Nigeria Bolaji Abdullahi.
Abdullahi gave him the moniker after seeing the way the baby faced assassin took teams apart in friendly games and in their qualifiers against Niger Republic, where he scored a hattrick.
Tall, lanky and full of tricks, the nickname truly fits the young man who provoked memories of legendary Nigeria football star Kanu Nwankwo. Who also gained global attention after starring for Nigeria at U-17 level in 1993.
However what would have been the best pedestal for the then 16 year old to launch himself to the world, was truncated when he failed the mandatory age test for U-17 players.
His failed MRI test opened the door for the likes of Watford big money buy Isacc Success and Manchester City teen star Kelechi Iheanacho to make the step up as leaders of the team.
He returned to the team two years later when they graduated to U-20 but after a bit part role at the Africa Youth Championship. He was dropped from the World Cup squad.
While two of his former understudy are now part of the Nigeria senior national team. Mu’azam has just six months of professional football under his belt, no thanks to so many disappointments beyond his control and, a now healed knee injury.
Now at Nigeria Premier League side Wikki Tourist. The Kano state raised ace who missed out on three deals to take his trade abroad two years ago, insist he is still focused on making the most of his career.
” I’m not at all bothered. Am focused on making the most of my career. Have made mistakes in the past aside the disappointments of missing out on the various youth teams of Nigeria” He told popular Kaduna journalist Mohammed Suleiman.
” The career of Iheanacho and Success inspires me a lot, I see them as my role model, by that I mean if they can be playing at such a high level, very soon I will join them Insha Allah.
” I have no regret about what happened in the past. The future matters most above all, and that’s where I want to focus on”.
*Written by Mohammed Suleiman four months ago after a meeting with the forward during his recent trip to Bauchi.