Jude Aneke – The Nigerian record breaker arrives in Port Said
After weeks and months of speculation, Jude Aneke finally made the switch away from West Africa, leaving Warri Wolves to sign for Al-Masry. This profile outlines what the Egyptian audience can expect from Aneke, and also considers his route taken to Port Said.
The short answer to the first question is ‘goals’. Already a Nigerian international, Aneke has a reputation in the domestic league as a hotshot young striker. Despite moving between various clubs, the frontman made his name with an incredible goal haul for Kaduna United. Before long, Aneke’s strikes ensured him the title of top scorer in the Nigerian league, becoming the first player to hit the 20-goal mark, in late 2011. It’s not a record to be scoffed at, and one that has not been earned lightly; several memorable displays, including a handful of hat-tricks that season, are unlikely to ever be forgotten by Crocodiles fans.
This reputation saw the Enugu–born striker courted by a host of European clubs this summer. MTN identified a trio of Turkish sides who were hoping to seal a deal, while sources in Turkey suggested that even clubs such as Italian giants Roma, and Amkar Perm on the banks of the Kama River, in Russia, were keen on Aneke. Trials in Belgium, with Genk, broke down last November due to a financial disagreement, and August seemed to be penned in as the month that would see the striker make the step to a European League.
It had seemed like Perm would be the eventual destination after a pre-contract deal was negotiated with the Russian side. Visa issues interfered however, and Aneke turned to plan B as Egypt came-a-calling. After refusing to trial with Ahly, the record-breaker eventually put pen to paper, signing a deal with Al-Masry – who’re banned from participating in the 2012/2013 Egyptian Premier League season.
Despite arriving in Egypt, a future in Europe may well be on the horizon for the young striker, who dreams of one day following in the footsteps of Rashidi Yekini. During his trial in Turkey, Sivasspor coach Riza Calimbay identified a striking similarity between Aneke and fellow Nigerian frontman Emmanuel Emenike, who has made a successful transition to Europe, initially Turkey, and now Russia, after starting off in the Nigerian Premier League. Like Aneke, Emenike moved to another African club after leaving Nigeria, eventually crossing the Mediterranean after a brief spell in South Africa with F.C. Cape Town.
The three-year contract with Masry ought to see Aneke, still only 22, through some exciting, but crucial years in his football development. The famous twenty with Kaduna United heard his name resonate across Nigeria, but it will be a massive challenge for the striker to recreate that hoard immediately. While Nigerian attacker Stephen Worgu has demonstrated his ability since leaving Nigeria for Sudan, and then Libya, he has also illustrated the difficulties that West Africans can face in moving across the continent.
Still, the recent transfers of predatory goal-machines such as Robin Van Persie and Jordan Rhodes have prompted debate about the transferability of goal-scoring skills. While there are examples of players who have hunted goals down relentlessly at one club, only to fade into impotent obscurity at another, the consensus seems to be that if a player has the instinct and the awareness of the goal, then that skill is transferable across borders, and beyond contexts.
The young Nigerian is good in the air, and strong, allying these qualities to the aforementioned instinct makes Aneke a veritable goal-machine, he has been in Nigeria, and he is likely to be once again in Port Said.
Masry fans can relish the prospect of a gem among their ranks.
Follow Ed Dove on Twitter.
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