It was a cold evening in Jos, Plateau State capital in April but that didn’t stop the defending champions of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), Plateau United from battling relegation threatened Kwara United at the New Jos stadium.
After 90 minutes, the host team ran out winners courtesy of an outstanding performance from Raphael Ayagwa who commanded the midfield, mesmerised opposing defenders, dropped timely passes and scored from the spot.
As he walked out of the pitch, the fans gave an emotionally-driven ovation for their famous Jersey number 13.
In an interview with yours truly afterwards, he was quick to reference God for his good form and specifically a great performance in the game.
Also, when asked what his personal target for the season was, he had none but for the team to flourish. That’s how selfless he can be.
After the interview, young kids poured out in their numbers from the stands down to the pitch side to take pictures, hug and celebrate with their hero. They followed him all the way down the tunnel and stopped when he was about stepping into the players’ changing room.
The 20 year old has been the key player and an outstanding performer for the Kennedy Boboye led team. Together with Tosin Omoyele, they have scored crucial goals and gotten points for the team more than other members of the team.
Due to his major contribution, Plateau United sits in fifth position, six less than Lobi stars of Makurdi who are leading the table in the elite football league in Nigeria which is currently experiencing a break.
Despite their failure to make a mark on the continent, the soft speaking footballer was one of the few who impressed in their CAF Champions League and Confederations Cup qualifiers.
It was said that he dumped a club abroad in the past for their meagre allowance and fees and returned to the country to ply his trade until a better offer shows up. That’s how high his ambitions are, he’s a thorough professional who understands the stakes and is ready to climb the ladder.
Over a decade ago, Nigerian players like Chinedu Obasi and John Mikel Obi took the Norwegian league by a storm with their breathtaking displays for Lyn Oslo and now, another star has arrived. Plateau United’s loss is Lillestrom’s gain.