Michael Emmanuel as emerged as the early contender for player of the tournament at the ongoing WAFU B U17 Championship in Ghana. The Simoiben Academy prospect has won back to back man of the match award.
He scored the first goal of the tournament with a stupendous freekick from range in the 4-2 win over host Ghana. He followed it up with another near faultless performance against Togo where they triumphed 3-1.
Many were shocked when he referenced Super Eagles star Moses Simon as the man he is dedicating his man of the match award to after the first game. Today he turns 16 and here is what OwnGoalNigeria.com senior editor Mohammed Mowiz Suleiman can tell about his career so far.
Michael came to Kaduna State from a village in Abuja around a year ago for trials at Simoiben Football Academy owned by the wife of Moses Simon, Mrs Simon Ibukun Sarah. He came for trials like every other kid. They were about 300 who came.
What made Michael stood out was his ability to use the ball in tight spaces. The coaches led by Gambo Shanding, Emma Okpula and Abel Oguh unanimously agreed that he should be given more time and placed him in the team for a test game.
He didn’t disappoint at all. His perfomance cemented his spot in the team but there was a final decision to be made and it has to be taken by Moses Simon. Who scrutinizes screened players on behalf of his wife. Simon instantly took to Michael.
Trouble struck when the kid went missing and Simon who was far away in France was quick to noticed as the lad wasn’t seen in any of the team pictures posted on their social media handles. He immediately sort to know of his whereabouts.
That inquest forced the coaches to begin tracing the kid and discovered that he was in Ilorin. A local scout who saw him in a game with Simoiben Academy tricked him into following him to Ilorin. The moment it was established that he wants to return back to Kaduna and the academy. Simon took him under his wings.
He gave him an apartment to stay, placed him on allowance aside ensuring that he gets fed three times a day. His career was also not left out as he got boots, kits and more from the Nantes winger.
A originally a midfielder but now excelling as a left full back. His journey to where he is at the moment would probably have suffered a setback if not for God and Moses Simon. He turns 16 today and on the right career path to become a great in the game if he continues to progress as expected.