Iheanacho, Iwobi… Eagles golden boys battle for global honour
The recent nomination of two Super Eagles players for the 2016 edition of Golden Boy award is like icing on the cake for Nigeria, as the country marks its 56th Independence Day today. Both Kelechi Iheanacho of Manchester City and Alex Iwobi of Arsenal have been unveiled, alongside other young footballers from across the worlds, to battle for the global honour. Though it’s a case of ‘winner takes it all,’ getting nominated for the award is a big plus.
Founded by Italian newspaper, Tuttosport, in 2003, the award is given to the most outstanding young player in Europe and both players have been outstanding for their clubs since their promotion to the first team last season, and have also had impressive starts to the new campaign. Past winners of the award include Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Paul Pogba, while Manchester United’s Anthony Martial is the current holder of the prestigious award.
Iheanacho and his Manchester City team are currently on top of the English Premiere League this season, and are yet to lose a game. Besides, the 19-year-old striker, who scored 10 goals last season, has made noticeable impact already, contributing goals for the Citizens both in the Premier League and in the Champions League.
On his part, Iwobi’s Arsenal has also had great shows in recent weeks, having started the season with a home loss to Liverpool. Their recent triumph over Chelsea FC is an indication that the Gunners are in for serious business this season. The Nigerian international returned from injury to reclaim his spot as a first team regular for the Gunners.
Other players nominated for the award are Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford, Dele Alli of Tottenham, Manchester City’s Leroy Sane and Demerai Gray of Leicester City. The list also include Milan’s Gianluigi Donnarumma, Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele and Bayern Munich’s Kingsley Coman and Renato Sanches.
The Golden Boy award is for a young player in Europe considered to be the best among his peers in a calendar year. All nominees must be under the age of 21 and play in a European nation’s top tier.
First won by Rafael van der Vaart in 2003, though players like Wayne Rooney, Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi made impact after being crowned winners, others like Anderson, Alexandre Pato and Mario Balotelli enjoyed less success after winning the award.