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Chasing the Dream: Samuel Nnoshiri eyes European top-tier despite adversity

Samuel Nnoshiri

As the 2023/24 football season draws to a close across major European leagues, players are beginning to reflect on their individual performances. For former Nigerian U20 midfielder Samuel Nnoshiri, the end of the season in Poland signals a time to set personal goals for the future.

“I know I have to work very hard because my goal is to play high level football in Europe, but it has not been a smooth season for me, that is why all my attention is now focused on next season and I am already setting my targets,” Nnoshiri told Soccernet.ng.

Early Career and Breakthrough

Nnoshiri’s journey to Europe has been fraught with challenges since he arrived in Spain in late 2021. His football career began promisingly. In 2019, at just 18, he was scouted by Nigeria Premier Football League side Heartland FC, under the guidance of Turkish coach Mehmet Tayfun. Rather than relying on seasoned players, Tayfun nurtured young talents, including Nnoshiri.

“My first season as a professional footballer was not as tough as I had expected. It used to be difficult for young players to break into the main team of premier league clubs in Nigeria, but as at the time I joined Heartland FC, we had a foreign coach who encouraged the young players and I was among the young lads in the team doing very well. I enjoyed my early stage in the Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL), playing every week for Heartland with the support of the coach who I believe saw the potential in me,” Nnoshiri recalled.

Samuel Nnoshiri

National Recognition

Nnoshiri’s debut season with Heartland FC was outstanding, earning him a call-up to the Nigeria U-20 national team in 2019. His goal was to join the youth team for the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland, following his participation in the 2019 African Games in Morocco, where Nigeria won a silver medal. Unfortunately, an injury one week before departure dashed his World Cup dreams.

“My dream of playing for the national team came so fast. I got invited to the U-20 national team. After winning silver medal at the African Games in Morocco, we continued preparations to go to the World Cup in Poland. My aim was to be a regular in the team and use the opportunity to make an impact, but unfortunately, I got injured one week before departure and could not make the final list,” he said.

Despite the setback, Nnoshiri viewed the experience as a valuable learning process. “It was a great exposure. I learnt a lot while playing with older, experienced players in the league and the memories at U-20 camp with other young players across the country remains unforgettable. My aim was to represent Nigeria in the World Cup, but it didn’t work out that way, I am happy to have been part of the team anyway.”

Domestic Challenges and Triumphs

After two seasons with Heartland, Nnoshiri sought to leave due to internal crises within the club. Despite resistance from the administrators, he moved to Katsina United in September 2021, which proved to be a positive step.

“I faced a lot of challenges because I wanted to leave Heartland FC. It was not easy to secure the transfer, but I eventually signed for Katsina United. I really enjoyed my time in Katsina, I played so well and contributed a lot to the team’s progress on the log. I look back at my time there with a lot of excitement because that was my last club in Nigeria and that was when I also got invited to the home-based Super Eagles,” said Nnoshiri.

Katsina United became Nnoshiri’s proving ground. His performances earned him a call-up to the national team for the 2022 African Nations Championship (CHAN).

 The Leap to Europe

In 2021, Nnoshiri moved to Spain but faced delays due to documentation issues. “I did not start playing when I went to Spain. It was not really a bad situation, but it would have been better if not for the issues I had with my work permit. It delayed me and I was out of action for months,” he noted.

The transition to European football was challenging. He joined Oviedo Vetusta in Tercera Federación and contributed to their promotion to Segunda Federación. However, injuries plagued his time in Spain, including a significant ankle injury that sidelined him for five months.

“While preparing for my second season in Spain and hoping to play with the main team, I got injured. It was an ankle injury that took me out for like five months and I was demoted to the second team. It broke my heart because I couldn’t achieve my target of playing in the first team,” he recalled.

Current Struggles and Resilience

Nnoshiri then moved to Polish second division side Podbeskidzie Bielsko-Biala, where he faced familiar challenges: tactical adjustments, weather conditions, language barriers, and injuries. “It’s been tough,” he quipped. “The change of environment, the cold weather, how to communicate was challenging for me, but I overcame it and focused on what brought me here. That is football.”

Despite these adversities, Nnoshiri remains resilient and focused on his ultimate goal of playing top-tier European football. “I have never regretted any moment playing football and I have never thought of giving up or I don’t want to do this again,” he said. “I won’t let my challenges weigh me down because I have always believed in myself. There are times when I feel down, but I get a lot of encouragement from family and friends.”

Nnoshiri
Samuel Nnoshiri

Looking Ahead

Nnoshiri’s journey is one of determination and passion. He continues to train rigorously and aims to gain visibility for a breakthrough in his career. “For me to accomplish the goals I have set for myself in professional football, I just have to keep my head up, work hard, meet up with training and try to show myself in games,” said Nnoshiri. “I have to keep pushing for more exposure and be consistent. When I start to score goals and make assists constantly, my breakthrough might just come.”

Nnoshiri’s story is a testament to resilience in the face of adversity, and his pursuit of top-tier European football continues unabated.

 

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