Every season, the Nigerian Professional football League (NPFL) pitches a new star. Stephen Odey of MFM FC is the man of the moment for the year 2017.
His striking form, which has left opposing teams in tears and sorrow, has placed MFM FC as a major contender among the possible league leaders and has earned them a continental ticket next year.
The sudden resurgence of the club appears to be tied to the magical boots of Stephen Odey whose goal count hits 18. This striker did not just drop from the moon, he is a product of the GTBank Principals Cup, a grass root football development programme of Guaranty Trust Bank.
Steven played in the second edition of GTBank-Lagos State Principals Cup where he was the captain of the winning Dairy Farm Senior Secondary School, Agege. He also topped the list of the GTBank 13-man All Star Team of the Year. It is therefore no surprise that the little mustard seed is fast growing into an oak.
In January 2017, Stephen received the NPFL Bloggers’ Award as the most valuable player of the month. Also, in the current season, he was the first player to score a hat trick among over 200 players in the league.
He scored five goals for the MFM FC in the 2015 season of the Nigeria National League, helping the club to gain promotion into the elite Nigeria Professional Football League. In the Season 2015/16, he scored 9 goals to become his club’s top scorer. In the current season, he has scored a total of 18 goals.
In some instances, 14 goals was what some players scored to emerge the top scorers for the entire season. In the days leading to the last friendly match the Super Eagles had in London, March this year, Odey’s name kept coming up as a domestic league player who should have been employed for the Super Eagles’ assignments. However, his exploit led to his invitation to the Super Eagles CHAN Team double header qualifiers against Benin Republic in August.
The former school boy sensation in the GTBank Principals Cup has a big burden on his neck. He will have to prove that unlike the ‘kings’ before him, he will not be a one season sensation.
Stephen’s impressive performance has now led him to signing a four year contract with Swiss club-FC Zurich, this may not be a big surprise considering the GTBank football tournaments growing profile of football future stars.
The 18-goal mark he set in 36 matches is even higher than what most of his predecessors scored in the entire 38-match seasons in the past.
Consider the goal-chart below:
Past Top Scorers of Nigerian League
1990-Ishaya Jatau (Iwuanyanwu Nationale), 17 goals
1991-Richard Ojomo (Bendel United), 12 goals
1992-Arthur Moses (Super Stores), 10 goals
1993-Tony Nwigwe (Iwuanyanwu Nationale), 13 goals
1994-Olumide Harris (Shooting Stars), 14 goals
1995-Ben Agadah (Gombe United), 12 goals
1996-Peter Anyiolobi (Enyimba), 9 goals
1997-Paul Kpoughoul (Jasper United/BCC Lions), 16 goals
1998-Hassan Minda (Gombe United), 14goals
1999-Emmanuel Agbo (Iwuanyanwu Nationale), 14 goals
2000-Peter Ijeh (Julius Berger), 14 goals
2001-Uche Okereke (Enugu Rangers), 13 goals
2002-Joetex Frimpong (El-Kanemi), Victor Ezeji (Dolphins), 16 goals
2003-Chibuzor Ozurumba (Iwuanyanwu), Endurance Idahor (Julius Berger) 12 goals each
2004-Kabiru Alausa (Berger), 13 goals
2005-Timothy Anjembe (Lobi Stars), Joseph Akpala (Insurance), Charles Omokaro (Sharks), 12 goals each
2006 -Ibenebu Ikechukwu (El Kanemi), 10 goals
2007 – Ameh Aruwa (Kaduna United), 10 goals
2007/2008 – Abubakar Babale (Wikki Tourist/Sunshine Stars), 14 goals
2008/2009 – Akarandut Orok (Akwa United), 17 goals
2009/2010 – Ahmed Musa (Kano Pillars), 18 goals.
2010/2011 – Jude Aneke (Kaduna United), 20 goals
2011/2012 – Sibi Gwar (Niger United), 17 goals. 2012/2013 – Victor Namo (Nasarawa United) 18 goals.
2013/2014 – Mfoh Udoh ( Enyimba) 23 goals