Nigerian prodigy Samuel Chukwueze has described his international debut as the completion of a “dream year.”
The 19-year-old’s skill and pace caught the eye after starting for the Super Eagles in Tuesday’s 0-0 friendly draw against Uganda in Asaba.
Chukwueze is enjoying a breakthrough season at Villarreal, scoring in both the League and Spanish Cup despite only earning promotion to the first team from the reserves.
“Making my debut for Nigeria only completes a dream year in my professional life,” he told BBC Sport.
“I’ve played and scored for Villarreal this year, and I never expected to get a chance to get into the Super Eagles team, but everything is happening like a dream.
“Some people wait for several years to live a dream but I am grateful to Villarreal and Nigeria for making all my dreams happen in under a year.”
A Fifa 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.
“My friends started the whole Arjen Robben comparison because of my playing style and I consider him as my first football hero,” he stated.
“I know there is still a lot for me to do to even come close to what he has achieved in football, so I am not getting carried away.
“At Villarreal the officials keep reminding me of another Nigerian – Ikechukwu Uche – who they regard as a legend at the club and they’ve told me to try to emulate his ways on and off the pitch.
“I have some big players to look up to and I hope to continue my best to achieve more dreams with both Villarreal and Nigeria.”
Chukwueze joins a growing list of Nigeria’s U-17 World Cup winners who have progressed to the senior national side, including Francis Uzoho, Kelechi Iheanacho, Isaac Success, Victor Osimhen, among others.
After his impressive showing against the Cranes of Uganda Tuesday, it won’t be a surprise if Eagles coach Gernot Rohr hands him another start in the Afcon qualification dead rubber against Seychelles.