When Samuel Chukwueze made his first start for Villarreal in the Europa League in yesterday’s 3-3 draw against Spartak Moscow not many envisaged the 19 year old making such progress a year ago when he joined the Yellow Submarines.
Chukwueze rise to the European stage is more bewildering considering his career experienced a little lull after a move to Arsenal and later FC Porto failed to materialise.
It means his more illustrious teammates from the Nigerian U17 team of 2013, the likes of Victor Osimhen, Kelechi Nwakali and Orji Okonkwo started their professional football a year before Chukwueze joined Villarreal.
While the aforementioned trio are yet to deliver on the promise that saw secure deals ahead of Chukwueze, it’s the Villarreal teen who is currently viewed as the next big thing by various scouts and top teams in Europe.
The willingness to work and learn have always been his way of things and despite possessing a skillset so rare to see in young African footballers, it’s his determination to progress through the ranks of the La Liga side that has helped him come thus far.
That is not saying the likes of Osimhen, Nwakali and Okonkwo are not hardworking but while they felt like they have earned the right to be given a spot in the first team of their various teams, Chukwueze had to work to climb through the ranks after starting out from the U19s.
His progress to the B team in less than a year took many by surprise, little wonder the club was forced to hand him an extension to keep him away from teams who were planning to snatch him.
The jury is now out on the teen with many expecting him to improve on the near perfect form which propelled his rise through the team structure, when he finally settles down in the first team.