Football is a game of numbers, all across the world, cognizance is given to statistics and not only statistics but indeed numbers in terms of players’ age.
In Europe, Brazilian Vinicius Junior has just been called up to the Brazil national team at the tender age of 18, Poland‘s Krystof Piatek at a tender age is in a form even long experienced players would dream of.
Kylian Mbappe, at the age of 20 has broken records in the Ligue 1 and Champions League with AS Monaco and PSG.
In Nigeria, young talents have been exported to European leagues since times past and the talents still abound in the Nigeria Professional Football League.
So, with that knowledge in mind, we’ve decided to profile Top 5 U-20 stars in the NPFL we expect to become recognized globally, as bright young prospects in the NPFL 2018/2019 abridged season
- Olakunle Olusegun
The Ilorin side have a rare gem in their hands, Segun was the captain of the ABS u15 team that won the maiden NPFL/La Liga u15 championship two years ago.
He is now a major part of the Nigerian u17 team as they won the Wafu u17 championship last year thus qualifying for the CAF U17 nations cup later this year in Tanzania.
- Jatto Benjamin
Club: Wikki Tourist
A lad who caught the eye of Wikki tourist coach Aliyu Zubairu during the preseason games is now part of the Bauchi based side.
Although, it must be said that he is yet to light up the league as expected but he definitely has the potential to be a big star in the coming seasons.
- Ayo Adebuju
Age: 14 years
Club: Sunshine Stars
Not much is known about the player and not many have big expectations from him but for Kabir Dogo, manager of the Akure Gunners to have handed the fourteen-year-old his debut in the match against Katsina United in one of the Matchday 8 encounters underlines his hidden talents.
The youngster is arguably one of the youngest players if not the youngest to have played in the NPFL. However, it will take a lot of hard work and tangible exploits in the league before he can be taken seriously.
- Samuel Nnoshiri
Age: 17 years
The teenage sensation who burst Into the NPFL scene in February with a goal against Nasarawa United on Matchday 3 and an assist got listed for the league bloggers award for the month.
He was acquired from ASJ Academy after a friendly game between the academy and Heartland convinced coach of the Owerri based side, Ransom Madu of his abilities albeit amidst criticism from fans of the Naze Millionaires.
However, after impressive showings by the youngster in NPFL matches, he has become the toast of heartland fans and has been penned down for the u20 side, the flying eagles.
- Ikowuem Utin
Ikowuem is already a household name for ardent followers of the Nigeria Professional Football League.
The young star, a wing-back for the People’s Elephant have been a mainstay in the Enyimba team, getting heavily involved as the team made an impressive run to the semi-finals of the CAF Confederations Cup in 2017/2018 season.
His performances earned him a place in the U20 team captaining the side to a fourth-place finish at the 2019 CAF U20 championship.
With his defensive colleague, Valentine Ozonwarfor who was who was also at the CAF U20 championship Making the recent National team list for the games against Seychelles and Egypt, it’s just a matter of time before Utin gets his own call up too.
- Valentine Ozonwarfor
Another defender on the books of Enyimba FC already making his mark after making the team of the tournament at the CAF U20 championship in Niger alongside teammate Ikowuem Utin.
His exploits didn’t go unnoticed as the coach of the Super Eagles, Gernot Rohr has handed him his maiden call up to the national team. With another appearance at the world scene for the FIFA U20 World cup looming, the youngster may just be getting started.