By Adebayo Williams
Super Eagles forward Victor Moses has become a household name in Nigeria after his two-goal outing with the national team against Algeria on Saturday. He has also been on song at his club Chelsea following his burst of form under Antonio Conte. One can only wonder how the Kaduna-born rose to such heights at his age.
But in a story of how the star found a team as opposed to the norm of clubs finding their man, Tony Loizi says Moses had walked into his team as a 13-year-old. Loizi says the player had walked up to him and offered to play for Cosmos 90, which was, at the time, the worst in the Tandridge Youth Football League league. He said Moses had done back flips and tricks to their marvel after they allowed him the chance to showcase his talent.
“We watched him play and he was doing back flips and tricks. We all just stood there with our mouths open. I couldn’t believe it, he had a shot harder than a rocket,” Loizi told Goal.
“I said, ‘what team do you play for?’ and he said ‘I don’t play for a team’, then I replied, ‘you have got to be in an academy?!’ and he said ‘no’. I immediately went to his foster parents’ house to sign him up and they told me his story.
“There is a one-in-a-million chance that sort of player comes to an ordinary Sunday league side, it is almost impossible. They are normally snapped up so early, they are in academies before you know it. He came up to us, we didn’t find him, he found us!”
He said Moses had brought stability and confidence to the team. Loizi praised him as a player who always looked out for his teammates. He narrated how he had promised to watch his cousin who had been debuting as a goalkeeper in place of their injured first choice.
Loizi revealed the fans had once accused the club of cheating. He said the Nigerian’s skills and abilities had awed them thought it was too much for his age. He spoke of a woman who attacked Moses on the pitch for humiliating her son. He had lifted the ball above the boy in goal, put it between his legs, brought the ball back and repeated the same skills before finishing off to score the goal leaving the keeper in tears.
“His first game was against Chipstead FC and they beat us 8-1 only a year earlier in the cup,” Loizi, who played in Arsenal’s academy, added. “My son was due to play in goal but fractured his arm so I put his cousin in goal who was only about two feet tall! I put Moses at centre-half who went to my nephew ‘don’t worry, I’ll look after you’.
“We won 10-1 and Victor scored eight goals from centre-half, Chipstead were one of the best as well, as their first team was semi-professional and all their parents and the manager were calling us cheats.
“They said, ‘he is not the right age’ and I said, ‘look we have the documentation, he is the right age, so tough’. I knew he would dominate as, when I first met him, we put some balls on the halfway line and he was scoring from there – and at only 13-years-old!
“Another moment that I remember was when Victor goes up to the goalkeeper, puts the ball through his legs, turns around chips it back over his head and then beats him again. The kid was in tears as he absolutely humiliated him.
“Then the mother of the child comes on with her handbag and starts hitting him over his head with her handbag as he humiliated him. I said to him after that, it doesn’t matter how good you are, you have got to be humble.
“He was like Gareth Bale when he plays for Wales. Without Bale, Wales are an ordinary or average side and without Moses, Cosmos 90 FC were worse than ordinary!”
He said Moses attracted more crowd to the match venues and eventually caught the eyes of Crystal Palace scouts. Loizi said he had advised him to take the deal and move to a higher level.
After Moses signed his schoolboy contracts with Palace, he was set up with a place in one of Croydon’s best private schools, Whitgift. There, he continued his success at youth level by winning the FA Youth Cup for Whitgift. Grimsby school were blown apart by Moses as he scored all five goals in a 5-0 victory, who were managed by ex-Chelsea star Colin Pates, in the final back in 2005.
Moses went onto sign for Chelsea for £9 million from Wigan Athletic in 2012, but has only now broken into the first team on a regular basis after Conte switched to a 3-4-3 formation.
Loizi, who now works as a courier across London, is a Chelsea fan and is delighted with the impact of Moses after breaking through into the Blues’s starting XI under Conte.