Nothing builds up excitement and expectations of avid followers of the English Premier League to a crescendo, than the transfer window. Consisting of two streams: Pre-season (9 June – 1 September) and Mid-season (1 January – 1 February), the transfer window offers clubs a veritable breather to bolster their ranks and offload players surplus to requirements.
In recent seasons, it has assumed a reputation of springing up surprises and shocks; or rather EPL clubs, luxuriously swathed with the financial clout of record breaking television deal, have been indulging in big budget recruitments of players across the globe.
The last transfer window (Pre-season) saw the arrival of Alexis Sanchez to Arsenal FC, a move widely acclaimed as a major coup, considering the Chilean returns of 10 EPL goals/assists in as many games for the Gunners.
What perhaps came as the biggest surprise of the 2014 summer window was West Brom’s £10m record signing of Nigerian International Brown Ideye who joined the Baggies from Dynamo Kyiv in a 3year deal, with optional one year extension.
From a player whose international career suffered a critical coma after he was dropped by coach Stephen Keshi from the Super Eagles party to Brazil for the FIFA World Cup 2014, to a player who is currently WBA record signing, Ideye’s story is a classical case of career resuscitation, one the seasoned football analyst, Oma Akatugba would term “the Darman Miracle.”
From the Creeks to the Peak
Ideye started his professional football career in Bayelsa FC, and later switched to sister club Ocean Boys of Brass, where he won the Nigerian Premier League in 2006. Like many Nigerian footballers, he pursued his dreams of European football when he signed with Neuchâtel Xamax (Switzerland) in 2008, notching up 23 goals in 55 appearances during a 3year stay at the club. He had a modest stint with Sochaux-Montbeliard (France) which he joined in 2010, with a haul of 17 goals in 52 matches.
Unarguably, the highlight of his club career till date was his transfer to Dynamo Kyiv in 2011, raking in 33 goals in 74 appearances. It was at the Ukrainian club that scouts of some top European clubs began to pay serious attention to the strong, pacy striker.
As fate would have it, Ideye got his first senior international call from Swedish tactician Lars Lagerback following Mikel’s injury-induced withdrawal from the 23-man Nigerian squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Three years later, he achieved the most significant high point of his career as a member of the Super Eagles team that won the Africa Cup of Nations.
The Darman Miracle
At club level, the Bayelsa born striker was dislodged by Dieumerci Mbokani, thus began his travails and search for a new club.
Following Nigeria’s group stage elimination at the 2013 Confederations Cup, Ideye was heavily criticised by a large section of the fans for his poor and lacklustre performance. It therefore came as no surprise when he was dropped from the 2014 World Cup team.
Though that would have made it extremely difficult for him to secure a dream move to the Premier League, but his agent, Hootan Ahmadi of Collective Sports Management pulled off the surprise deal of the season to secure Ideye’s record move to the Hawthorns, in what could be seen as a new breath of life to his hitherto dying career.
After the Joy comes the Pressure
With barely 10 rounds of games played in the EPL, Ideye is already feeling the heat. And with just 3 league games to his name, he is yet to find the back of the net. His solitary strike came in the league cup game against Hull. That certainly has not helped to ease the pressure from the fans who are desperate to see him justify the huge transfer fee on his head. He is beginning to find himself frozen out of the first team, and there are even rumours making the rounds that WBA coach Alan Irvine is willing to let him leave in the January transfer window.
A stitch in time saves NINE
‘A lot of people are writing on my Instagram and Twitter page saying “you’re s***” or “you’re not worth the money”
‘You can’t criticise me, I’ve not been playing. How can you criticise somebody who has not been playing?
‘I am just unlucky, it was unfortunate I got injured and when I was out the team was doing very well.’
In a series of tweets posted on his wall, Ideye lashed back at his critics, but went further to reaffirm his resolve to put his injury woes behind him to prove his worth on the pitch. Whether that will buy him game time remains to be seen. What he’s yet to appreciate, is that in the English Premier League patience is a luxury that cannot be afforded, and the faster he gets up and running in delivering the much-needed goods like the likes of Diego Costa, Diafra Sahko etc, the better for his bleak-looking career at the Hawthorns. A stitch in time saves NINE.