In Nigeria, they are already talking about him joining the ‘Super Eagles’, the national team. The German former world champion Lukasz Podolski also saw the talent of Paul Mukairu (20) and took him under his wings at Turkish club Antalyaspor. Meet the deeply religious man who shot Anderlecht past Antwerp on Sunday.
“I am sure he will be in a big competition.”
If it depends on his youth coach Bala Misau, we shouldn’t doubt Paul Mukairu.
He thinks that the young attacker who helped Anderlecht to three points against Antwerp should get his chance with the Nigerian national team as soon as possible.
“He can lead the Super Eagles to great success,” he told The Guardian.
Mukairu will certainly not get lost in Brussels any time soon. He was born in the Nigerian capital Abuja, a metropolis of 1.5 million inhabitants. At the age of nineteen, last year, he went to Antalya, a city of 2.5 million people. Brussels will feel like a village.
It is in Antalya, Turkey, that the young Nigerian was taken under the wings by the German ex-world champion Lukasz Podolski.
The two trained together on finishing for another 20 minutes after each Antalyaspor workout.
“Podolski got along well with Paul and soon took him under his wings,” says Serdar Ertemçöz, who moved Mukairu to Turkey two years ago.
“He thought he had a lot of talent and wanted to help him. A great teacher. ”
Before Mukairu got a professional contract in Turkey, he tried out with the youth team of Antalyaspor.
In eight games he scored eight goals and made seven assists.
A five-year contract was quickly sealed and the Nigerian was immediately promoted to the main team. He will make 31 appearances last season and was good for four goals and two assists.
“But the fact that he didn’t quite succeed was not his own fault,” said Ruud Boffin, the Belgian goalkeeper of Antalyaspor.
“The Turkish competition is very difficult for a youngster. The directors and fans only want to see experienced players with a big CV. Paul has talent. ”
Despite his performances in Turkey, there was great interest in Mukairu this summer. He could go to the Netherlands, but was also on the list of Genk, Leipzig, Sassuolo and Spezia.
Ultimately, Anderlecht attracted the Nigerian based on data analysis. Scouting him was impossible due to travel restrictions due to the corona virus.
To get a better picture of the young attacker, Anderlecht held talks with Mukairu’s teammates and coaches in the greatest secrecy.
In the end he was able to convince Anderlecht, who have taken him on loan from Antalyaspor, but negotiated a purchase option of about three million Euros.
“That deal is a golden deal,” said Meshack Ubochioma, a Nigerian friend of Mukairu’s who plays in the Slovenian second division.
“Paul is a phenomenon.”
Mukairu is most comfortable on the left flank.
“That is without a doubt my favourite position,” he says.
“He is not a centre-forward,” adds Ertemcoz.
“He is indeed at his best on the left. There he can easily go to his right foot and strike with his speed. It will take patience with him. He’s just a boy. Don’t forget that he only played his first professional match a year ago.
“He is certainly not a finished product yet ”
After his goal against Antwerp, Mukairu already extensively thanked his main source of inspiration: God.
He is therefore a deeply religious guy.
“You can talk to him about two things: religion and football”, says his friend Meshack.
“He doesn’t have a girlfriend and expensive cars don’t interest him either.”
“He only thinks about football. I’ve never seen such a determination to succeed,” Ertemcöz concludes.
Adapted from Nieuwsblad