The protagonist of the Villarreal miracle.
Sam Chukueze turned the match between Villarreal and Bayern as he reached extra time. Bayern took a 1-0 lead, the Nigerian came out five minutes before the end, ran away from Alfonso Davis and turned the main opportunity of the small Spanish team. 1: 1 – and qualification to the semifinals of the Champions League.
When Villarreal last played in the Champions League semi-finals, Samuel Chukvueza was 6 years old. He had not played football yet, and he should not be on the field at all. His parents not only doubted, but did everything possible to intervene – at first they simply encouraged him to study and then forbade him to play.
“My mom made me stay home and study,” the footballer said in an interview with Goal.com. “I was good at school, but I was obsessed with football. The training took place in the evening. I knew I would be punished if I came back late, but I still ran away. When I returned, my parents told me that I should sleep on the street. “My mother would not let me go home.”
Even that did not work. So Uncle Samuel just he burned his shoes and his training uniform.
“God appeared to me and said, ‘Let my son play.’
Chukwueze quit football for a while. I did not want to run into my uncle’s aggression again.
My friends saved my career. One morning, the children knocked on the door and called for a look. Scouts have arrived in Nigeria, ready to take talented kids to the Portuguese tournament.
Chukwueze’s passion for football is a family story. They say that his grandfather was a good football player, with a cool left hand. The child was also constantly punishing opponents with his left, so the impressed friends insisted: you have to try.
“I told the kids I was not interested,” the Villarreal player recalled. “I knew my parents would not let me go. But the friend did not stop. He said he would come for me in the morning on the day of the screening. She told him not to do it. And it arrived at six in the morning!
Samuel’s mother opened the door. She heard his friend’s story about the Portugal tournament and went to wake her son.
Sam could not believe it was not a dream. His mom forbade him to play all his life and now he is dragging him to football. He even refused automatically, as in a dialogue with a friend, but in response he heard a loud scream:
“Take your shoes and leave the house!”
Chukwueze’s mother then explained what it was. According to her, this God appeared to her and said, “You must allow your son to play.”
The guy was happy, he no longer had to hide to do what he loved – football was legalized immediately. But the adventure is not over.
Sam’s friend was wrong. It was not a tournament in Portugal, but a choice for the local Diamond Football Academy. The boys came to the screening but did not let Sam in – the coach said they should have recorded earlier and not stayed home.
“I was standing outside waiting for a friend to go home together,” Chukwueze recalled in an interview with Goal.com. – But the director of the academy saw me on the street and asked the coach to let me in anyway. “Just to see what I can do.”
A few minutes on the field was enough. The Nigerian coach immediately saw the diamond.
Chukwuese wanted the best clubs in Europe. But he chose Villarreal – and he writes history with it
Chukvueze quickly became the academy’s top scorer and left for the Portuguese tournament itself, in which his mother had originally left him (by the way, he also scored the most).
At a youthful level, Samuel was tearing up. The best example is the 2015 World Youth Championship. Nigeria then took the gold and were drawn by 16-year-old Osimhen (10 goals in 7 matches), Chukwueze (3 + 4) and Nwakali (3 + 1). In other teams in that tournament, Ecuador Estupinian (now Villarreal with Chukwueze) and Fedor Tsalov (three goals like Chukvezee, the Russian team left the group but lost to Ecuador in the 1/8).
Since then, Nigerians have been chased by European leaders, traveling to academies and choosing future destinations (you can only legally leave when you are 18).
Chukwueze looked at the situation in Porto, Sporting, PSG and Salzburg, negotiated with Arsenal (eventually got Nwakali), but chose Villarreal.
Sam lived separately – usually the children from the Villarreal academy live in a boarding school, but the Nigerian had to get used to independence in a new environment. He quickly became friends with Pau Torres, the tall defender took him to training and helped in Spanish. And then – rapid growth due to frantic zeal.
• Sam made his first-team debut in the autumn of 2018, scoring immediately in the Copa del Rey.
• In April 2019 he went 1 + 1 against Barcelona (played 4-4) but could not sleep all night. I was upset that Messi withdrew from that match.
• In the autumn of 2019 he was ranked in the top 5 young players in the world according to France Football. Along with Joao Felix, Sancho, Moise Kean and Lee Kang In (Mallorca).
• In the winter of 2020, Real Madrid, Chelsea and Liverpool are interested. But Villarreal did not sell, the compensation of the Nigerian is 100 million euros.
• Reached the UEL final in the spring of 2021, but never played for Manchester United due to injury.
“In a few years, I see myself at the top of my career,” Chukwueze prophesied in a 2019 interview with theinterview.ng.
Sam missed the 2022 World Cup and missed the biggest final in Villarreal history (at least so far), but returned on Tuesday. Bayern, scored the main goal of his career. And he danced both on the field and in the locker rooms.
It seems that the peak of his career is coming, which, against the background of parental prohibitions, he once did not even dream of.
Photo: East News / Jose Jordan / AFP; globallookpress.com/Mutsu Kawamori / AFLO, Sven Hoppe / dpa; afpforum.com/East News / MARCELO HERNANDEZ / PHOTOSPORT / AFP