Dozens of players has made and will make an appearance in the Premier League. The majority of them, excepting the world class footballers, tend to struggle. Maintaining a valuable asset to an Premier League club is an combination of talent, luck and determination. If you are falling short on one of these, you better compensate it with the remaining two categories. An perfect example is the Nigerian wingback Victor Moses. Who arguably doesn’t hold enough talent for the PL-top, but has buckled down when things got rough. And he got awarded for it.
The 26-year old was born in Nigeria’ biggest city: Lagos. His youth in the 90’s was ridden with attempted coups in the country and thousands of people lost their lives while fighting for democracy. It wasn’t until May 1999 when peace was completely restored in Nigeria. Unfortunately, this wasn’t remotely close to the horror which Moses faced in 2001. At age 11, both his parents were killed. A week later, with his travel being paid for by relatives, Moses went to Britain as an asylum seeker.
Victor attended a local school and was playing football in the local Tandridge League for Cosmos 90 FC. Not for long, because Crystal Palace picked him up after a few months. Their stadium was just a few streets away from where he lived: a match made in heaven. The Nigerian was easily outscoring everyone and made jaws drop when he scored a staggering amount of 50 goals in one season at age 14 (2004). A few years went by and Moses eventually made his professional debut for ‘CPFC’ at age 16 in a 1-1 draw with Cardiff City. He kept impressing in the Championship with his beloved Crystal Palace until the January of 2010, when Premier League side Wigan Athletic bought the Nigerian for €2.700.000.
He eventually appeared fourteen times on the pitch in half a season, two of them as starter. Moses was destined to become a starter in the upcoming season, but struggled and didn’t make his breakthrough until the campaign which followed afterwards (2011-12). Winger Charles N’Zogbia left the club for Aston Villa, which means Moses became his internal replacement as starter.
He only needed one season to impress everyone. Chelsea bought the Nigerian international in August 2012, just five months after his international debut for Nigeria against Rwanda. Despite appearing for England from schoolboy up to Under 21, he opted to play for his home country. Which was a wise decision, because Victor has been a regular for quite some time now, including the WC2018 qualification rounds.
Moses was proofing to be a fantastic winger at Chelsea, especially in Europe: scoring five times in ten appearances. But his goal/assist tally wasn’t sufficient for them, and Chelsea decided to loan him out to Liverpool. This seemed to be first nail in his coffin.
Then LFC manager, Brendan Rodgers, wasn’t convinced by him and Moses didn’t stand a chance against Raheem Sterling, who was having his best season ever. Moses was ridiculed from time to time because he looked completely out of his place at Liverpool. Something which he didn’t deserve. He tried everything he could, but wasn’t convincing enough as winger. His career kept declining from there on. What followed were two unsuccessful loan spells with Stoke City and West Ham United. Moses went from promising winger to a unwanted loanee. How do you crawl your way out of such a vicious circle? Determination, hard work and discipline!
Antonio Conte arrived at Chelsea as the successor of José Mourinho. Conte is worldwide known for his 3-5-2/5-3-2 formation. Great successes were achieved with Juventus and Italy on his watch. It was hardly surprising when the Italian immediately started to prepping Chelsea players to be tactical flexible and getting comfortable with his formation and philosophy. This was the opportunity which Moses took with both hands. Victor possesses certain qualities on pitch: a steady pass, his pace while being extremely strong.
His years beforehand with Liverpool, Stoke and West Ham has opened his eyes: he won’t make the cut as a winger. So he buckled down, grasping for his last chance and started seeing himself as modern fullback. In a four man defence, Moses misses the finesse from a real defender, but his role as wingback in a back-five was significantly different. Keeping the width, being responsible in possession, but also having three sets of lungs is necessary for that role. Overall, the wingback position in such a formation is complex and vital at the same time. Moses eventually played 34 of the 38 Premier League games last campaign. Which was won by his club Chelsea.
The life of Moses has seen very dark periods, but it’s highly remarkable that he kept getting back up after another beat down from reality. Turning yourself from a washed out winger at middle table sides to a modern fullback for the champions is an fantastic achievement on his own. Regardless of his club: many (PL) sides would love having such a versatile, physically and mentally strong player as him. The Nigerian revival, written by The Football Freak, created by Victor Moses.