Nigeria legends Emmanuel Amuneke and Mutiu Adepoju have expressed their pleasure with the progress of Villarreal forward Samuel Chukwueze.
The 20-year-old winger broke into the limelight at the 2015 U17 World Cup tournament in Chile under the guidance of Amuneke.
The forward helped the Golden Eaglets to clinch the title for the fifth time and subsequently won the Bronze Boot award and the Most Valuable Player of the Tournament.
After his impressive showing in the competition, he joined the Yellow Submarine’s youth team in 2017 and was promoted to the first team a year later.
The winger, dubbed 'Arjen Robben' for his skilful playing style, has continued to deliver eye-catching displays and this season he has scored four goals and provided four assists before the suspension of the league due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Amuneke, who believes in the quality of the forward, has spoken of his delight with his development while backing him to move to a bigger club in future.
“Samuel Chukwueze whom I was privileged to have coached in the U17's, you can see how good he is and the team he finds himself. Villarreal is a team that likes to give young players opportunities to grow,” Amuneke told Goal.
“I am happy for him and hope he can do more. Chukwueze was in the youth team of Villarreal and I could remember when he was injured, I think two months to the World Cup, I said to the doctor ’he doesn’t need to train just make sure you recover him’.
“He is a player that we need; we know his qualities, we know what he can do. I am happy today he is doing his best.
“I hope he can be in a bigger club where Africans can enjoy him, not only in Nigeria because I believe whoever is playing in La Liga from Africa is representing Africa and that is our joy. So it is good to see our players doing very well in La Liga week-in week-out. They are playing and contributing their part to the development of La Liga.”
Former Real Madrid forward, Adepoju has also praised the progress of Chukwueze at Estadio de la Cerámica, stating the 22-year-old did not disappoint him, following his fine displays at the U17's.
“I am happy Chukwueze is playing in La Liga. I could remember when he was in the U17 under Amuneke. I could remember the talent he had and the prospect that he was showing then,” Adepoju said.
“When I heard he was in Villarreal’s second team, I believed he’s going to get into the first team and he’s going to make waves in La Liga. He has not disappointed me. “
Besides Chukwueze, a number of African players are impressing in the Spanish top-flight like Nigeria’s Kenneth Omeruo and Chidozie Awaziem, who are on the books of Leganes as well as Ramon Azeez, playing for Granada and Ghana’s Thomas Partey, who is doing well for Atletico Madrid.
Adepoju, now La Liga ambassador, is delighted with the influx of African players in the division but feels more still needs to be done to ensure African players embrace the Spanish top-flight.
“I am so happy because in the past when we were playing, we had so many Nigerians and Africans in La Liga and all of a sudden due to some circumstances there were no Nigerians in La Liga and as La Liga ambassador I was thinking what could be happening? Could it be that we were not having Nigerian players good enough to play in La Liga? Then we had Chukwueze, Ramon Azeez, I am just so happy and having Omeruo and [Chidozie Awaziem] in Leganes I am so happy there are Nigerians there,” he continued.
“Also seeing Thomas Partey and other African players playing in La Liga it’s just a great thing which means Africans are getting things done very well, although not as much as we would have wanted it to be but at least we are having African players in La Liga which is very good.”