Goal Nigeria Player of the Year Nominee: Anthony Ujah

A case is made for the billy-goal-terrifying goal-machine of Bremen; is he a worthy candidate for Goal's annual prize?

GOAL COMMENT      By Solomon Fowowe     Follow on Twitter  

It’s remarkable that Anthony Ujah only has a paltry six international caps, particularly when you consider that for the majority of the last few years, the forward has been kept out of the side by the impotent Emmanuel Emenike.

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Ujah was badly—and wrongly—labelled after a poor showing at the 2013 Confederations Cup, but after paying the price for many years, there can be no ignoring his qualities anymore!

Nomination for the Goal Nigeria Player of the Year award is testament to just how Ujah’s standing has been transformed over the last 12 months, and he is fully deserving of his place within our shortlist. Could he even be deserving of the prize itself?

The lack of a sizable amount of caps certainly doesn’t mask his brilliance that continually shows forth every week in the Bundesliga. Rippling nets with his variety of goals, most from inside the penalty box, the Benue-born striker displays accurate marksmanship, unerring finishing, and a lethal presence in front of goal. He is like a shark on a blood-scent…a terror that defences in Germany know only too well.

The former Warri Wolves player has steadily made his ascent up the footballing ladder, gently climbing each rung at a time.

At the start of the year, Ujah was busy being a trooper, scoring goals for FC Koln before he earned a move to the Weserstadion.

The 25-year old built a reputation as a dead-eyed striker, scoring 10 goals last season at the RheinEnergieStadion before gently inserting himself into the pantheon of prolific forwards of the Die Werderaner: Ivan Klasnic, Claudio Pizarro, Miroslav Klose…and now Ujah.

The penalty-box poacher has settled into his new club, scoring 10 goals in all competitions despite the increase in pressure and demand from the fans after replacing former Chelsea striker Franco Di Santo, rather than working in tandem with the Argentine.

Ujah’s stock has clearly risen as he has lived up to the expectation of a step-up in surroundings, and improved his ratios (he managed 10 in 32 at Koln). He’s scored seven goals already in 16 Bundesliga outings to cement his place as one of the division’s top goalscorers.

While Koln mascot Hennes the Billy goat will have been delighted to have seen Ujah leave, the Bremen fans are delighted to have him on their books.

The drive and passion with which he puts other teams to the sword is exquisite, showing composure and poise allied with his strength.

Another of his former teams, Mainz 05, felt his fury as he scored two quick-fire goals in the 39th and 44th minute to end his team’s five game run of consecutive defeats. He has shouldered the goalscoring burden of Viktor Skripnik’s side and contributed a whopping 44% of their goals, the most that any one player has carried a team in the scoring charts across the division, most being winners and equalizers.

He’s shown the kind of bouncebackability that he potentially lacked when axed by Stephen Keshi after the 2013 Cup of Nations by responding to a missed penalty against Koln by scoring the all-important fourth goal in the 4-3 victory over Borussia Monchengladbach in the third round of the DFB Pokal.

Ujah at the Confederations Cup in 2013

The equalizer against Stuttgart in the Bundesliga evinces his strength; the forward demonstrated his alertness and excellent reading of a game situation. He showed enough awareness not to drift offside, pounced on the loose ball after Clemens Fritz’s shot was deflected into his path, took it in his stride to calmly roll past goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton.

Quality stuff, and the kind of effort that should have Sunday Oliseh licking his lips.

After a wonderful year by all standards, no longer can Ujah be overlooked in the national team and ultimately as the Goal Nigeria Player of the Year.

This is the story of a comeback, and of a natural talent flourishing at an exceptionally high level. He’s surely done enough to win your vote.