Samuel Chukwueze says he is motivated and inspired after winning the Nigeria Football Federation’s 2018 Young Player of the year award.
The 19-year-old is enjoying a breakthrough season at Spanish side Villarreal by scoring in La Liga, Europa League and Spanish Cup.
His award also reflects that he made his senior international debut in 2018.
“It serves as a motivation to keep working hard for more success,” Chukwueze, who beat Victor Osimhen and Henry Onyekuru to the award,told BBC Sport.
“I’m very motivated and inspired by this, because it is unbelievable. Everything happening still seems like a dream.
“I have dreams of playing for my country in big tournaments and this shows that if I put more effort into my career, personal and team rewards will follow.”
The year 2018 has been memorable for the teenager who only earned promotion to the Villarreal first-team in July and five months later – became the fourth youngest goal scorer in La Liga this season.
With Wolfsburg’s Osimhen shining on loan in Belgium and Everton’s Onyekuru in great form in Turkey, Chukwueze is thrilled to have been acclaimed as the best young player in Nigeria.
“This award is going to impact me positively to grow in the right pace so that I can keep having good performances,” added Chukwueze, who was congratulated in a Tweet by his club Villarreal.
“I thank the staff and my teammates at Villarreal, not forgetting everyone in Spain and Nigeria who have given me a chance to grow and play football.
“My focus is to keep helping my club, continue to work hard to represent my country hopefully at the Nations Cup in Egypt and the Olympics.”
An Under-17 World Cup winner with Nigeria in 2015, he has been likened to his hero and Bayern Munich’s former Netherlands international winger Arjen Robben.
Chukwueze – who came close to joining Arsenal in 2016 – arrived at Villarreal from Nigeria’s Diamond Academy in August 2017.
He joins a growing list of Nigeria’s Uder-17 World Cup winners who have progressed to the senior national side.
Others are Francis Uzoho, Musa Muhamed, Kelechi Iheanacho, Isaac Success, Victor Osimhen, Dele Alampasu, while brothers Chidiebere and Kelechi Nwakali have also played for the Super Eagles B side.
Full list of winners at the NFF Awards:
- Men’s Player of the Year – Ahmed Musa
- Women’s Player of the Year – Onome Ebi
- Team of the Year – Super Falcons
- Goal of the Year – Ahmed Musa vs Iceland
- Young Player of the Year (Male) -Samuel Chukwueze
- Young Player of the Year (Female) – Anam Imo
- Male team Coach of the Year – Gbenga Ogunbote
- Female team Coach of the Year – Thomas Dennerby
- Fans of the year – Kano Pillars FC fans
- Fair Play Prize – Akwa United FC
- NFF Development Award: Channels Television (Channels Kids’ Cup)
- Special Recognition: Super Eagles of 1994
- Lifetime Achievement Award: Governor Akinwunmi Ambode
- NFF Presidential Award: Chief M.K.O Abiola (of blessed memory)
- NFF Order of Merit Award: Fatma Samoura