Asisat Oshoala – The African Wizard

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Asisat Lamina Oshoala, popularly known as Asisat Oshoala was born on 9 October 1994 in Ikorodu, Nigeria. She plays as a forward for the Nigerian side called the Super Falcons and FC Barcelona Femení in the Primera División. Oshoala first found success as a forward for Nigeria’s youth teams, but she made the majority of her early appearances as an attacking midfielder for the senior team. She was given the nickname “Seedorf” after the male football player Clarence Seedorf, and she has also been referred to as “Superzee” by her fellow teammates.

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Career 

She was awarded the best player award and was the highest goal scorer at the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. Oshoala was the top scorer of the tournament with 7 goals. She was also named the best player and was the second top goalscorer of the team that won the 2014 African Women’s Championship. On 23 January 2015, Oshoala joined the Liverpool Ladies. Liverpool’s manager at the time, Matt Beard called her “one of the best young players in the world”. She eventually won the BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year in 2015.

In January 2016, another English club the Arsenal Ladies activated the release clause in Oshoala’s contract and she signed them after agreeing on personal terms with the London club. However, the move did not work out well for her.

“It was good initially but I had a few issues and I had to choose whether to make the switch to the Chinese Super League.”

On 10 February 2017, Chinese club Dalian Quanjian F.C. officially signed Oshoala where she found club success and was one of the most important players. Then on 31 January 2019, Spanish club FC Barcelona Femení signed Oshoala on a loan deal until the end of the season. She scored Barcelona’s solo goal in a 4–1 defeat to Lyon in the 2019 UEFA Women’s Champions League Final. At the end of the 2018/19 season, Barcelona announced that they had signed Oshoala and she has a contract until 2022.

Asisat Oshoala celebrating her goal for Barcelona

Early Life

She mentioned that she started playing football when she was in school. She went to a coed school and played football during playtime and after class. She played for fun on the streets of Lagos before she joined a girl’s team in the city. About that experience, she has stated,

“I was happy because I could play football every day. I must admit it caused a lot of arguments with my mother, but I got my way. When I joined the Rivers Angels, it opened the doors to the national team, and for the first time I realised I could go on to become a professional.” 

In 2015 she set up her Foundation that encourages girls to go ahead with their dream of turning professional. According to her, she only focuses on helping young women because men have enough opportunities while they are very less available for the women of her country. She plays with them, talks to them to make them more confident, which helps them find a club to play in. Her Foundation has helped 5000 girls in Lagos. For her, it’s doing her bit for the upliftment of her community.

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According to her,

“I think that it is hard for girls in Africa to play football and other sports in general. A lot of them had the same problems that I had when I was little in that their parents don’t want them to play, and there aren’t many options for women footballers. I tell them never to give up, to keep fighting and believing in themselves. To love their football and to play it whenever they can. If you believe hard enough, one day, your dreams will come true.” 
Dream Call from Barcelona

For her, when the chance to play for Barcelona came up in 2019 she didn’t think twice, she wanted to come back to Europe and Barcelona was one of the best teams she had ever seen, and she really wanted to play there. It was a magical moment for her. The first six months were a bit hard as not a lot of the girls spoke English on the team and she joined midway, so she had to adapt a lot faster. But a lot of extremely interesting things happened in the second half of the season, including qualifying for the champions league finals. She said about the finals:

“Wow! I’d never played a game like that! I am proud to have scored Barça’s first-ever goal in a European final but was also sad about the result. We had chances, and these are all about experiences, but we couldn’t do it.” 

She is also the captain of The Super Falcons and has won the Confederation of African Football’s (CAF) Women’s Player of the Year award four times, sharing the record with fellow Nigerian Perpetua Nkwocha who won it in 2004, 2005, 2010 and 2011. She claimed the award in 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2019. She also joined Samuel Eto’o Fils and Toure Yaya on the eminent list of being the only African footballers to have won the award four times.

She insisted that she didn’t take the fourth win for granted and said to BBC,

“I was actually tense about it, but it was a historic night for me. I am really excited – proud of myself; 4 times is something always to remember. It keeps me going, but of course, there is still more work to do, I want to create my own history and not just equal someone else’s record – I’m going to give my best to create mine.”
Oshoala: The Warrior

Despite the difficulties, the Nigerian striker had a memorable season as she helped the Calatans emerge as champions for the first time in five years. Barcelona reclaimed the league diadem with 59 points from 21 matches and zero defeats to become the fifth team to achieve such a high. Oshoala was in tremendous form and scored 20 goals in 19 appearances at the Spanish League.

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The 25-year-old now has her first Major league title in Europe, after winning the Copa Catalunya Cup and Super Women’s Cup with Luis Cortes’ FCB Femení earlier. Recently she made it to Forbes Africa under 30 list. Asisat is the only sportswoman from the continent who made it into this exclusive list. She is also the youngest entry from Nigeria, the country with the most-selected individuals.

Oshoala is now gearing up for the Champions League challenge. Barça Femeni will play Atletico Madrid Femenino in the Quarterfinals on 21st August 2020, the knock out matches will be one-legged games in the Basque Country. Oshoala believes the team can go deep into the tournament again. Even though it’s hard to play after a six months break but last year’s experience will be vital for the team and the quarterfinals will be the one to watch.

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