Ahmed Musa - Nigerian Football Player

Ahmed Musa is not the first high profile Nigerian player to return home from Europe to join the domestic league, and he would probably not be the last. Former Nigerian international, Rashidi Yekini famously joined Julius Berger football club of Lagos after an illustrious career in Europe.

After his stint with Derby County, Africa Cup of Nations gold medallist, Ambrose Efe was training with Kaduna United before returning to Europe to join Scottish side, Liivinstone.

In fact, one of the reasons the Brazilian League is still very strong and popular today is the fact that their players are always quick to return to the home league after spells in the European league.

From Romario Farai to Ronaldo Dalima, to Ronaldinho to Rivaldo, all returned to Brazil to help the growth of the domestic league after spells in Europe.

What however makes Musa’s case a bit strange is the fact that he is still at the height of his career, which is why followers of the game are raising eyebrows.

In a telephone chat with former Nigerian international, Paul Okoku, he said Ahmed Musa took the best decision by returning home to help the growth of the Nigerian Professional Football League.

“Its just a shame that crowds are no longer allowed into stadium because of Coronavirus, I just could not imagine how many people Musa’s presence would have attracted in the stadium during NPFL games. His coming to play in the home league for his childhood club is good public relations for the local league,” Okoku noted.

Okoku charged Nigerian footballers in Europe that had played at the highest level but have seen their career dwindling to come home to help develop the local league.

Former Senator from Kaduna State and human rights activist Shehu Sani was not left out in the reactions to Musa’s joining his childhood club is generating.

“Ahmed Musa’s return to Kano Pillars is one of the best strategies to improve and attract interest in our local football teams and National league. After global, come local, it’s better than hanging and idling in Europe. There will always be a place for you at home,” Sani said.

With the Africa Cup of Nations less than a year away, the captain of Nigeria is desperate to get back on the pitch as soon as possible.

A few months ago, Musa was tearing up a staggering £31 million contract at Al-Nassr and dreaming of a return to the Premier League.

But after potential moves to the likes of Southampton, Burnley, Brighton, Wolves and Newcastle United failed to materialise, the one-time Leicester City forward would just be happy to play for anyone, in any league, these days.

And it seems that desperation could see Musa, who hasn’t played a single minute of club football since October, make a shock return to his homeland with four-time Nigerian champions Kano Pillars.

Musa has been a free agent since parting ways with Saudi Pro League side Al Nassr on October 25, 2020.

“Super Eagles captain, Ahmed Musa, has sensationally returned to Kano Pillars FC for the remainder of the 2020/21 Nigeria Professional Football League season (NPFL),” a statement from the Kano Pillars website read.

“Musa previously played for the Pride of Kano in 2009 where he ended the season as the top scorer in the Nigeria Professional Football League with 18 goals before moving to VVV-Venlo in the Netherlands.”

Ahmed Musa Nigerian Football Player

According to Kano Pillars, they agreed to the deal after ‘due consultations’ with the player and the League Management Company ‘who stand as a mediator to the deal’.

To this effect, Musa joins his boyhood club as an elite player of the league until the end of the 2020-21 campaign.

After completing all necessary documentation, the Super Eagles captain would be unveiled by the Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, before the start of the league’s second stanza.

“After speaking with the Governor and chairman of the League Management Company, LMC (Nigeria league’s governing body) I am considering playing some games for Kano Pillars,” explains Musa, who played for the club between 2009 and 2012.

“Anything that improves the image of Nigerian football is something I strive to embark on and Kano Pillars holds a special place in my heart.

“It’s the team that helped me become the professional footballer I am today, so this is more than just football but a very strong bond.”

Speaking in February, West Brom manager Sam Allardyce admitted the Baggies couldn’t offer Musa a contract after completing a number of other winter signings.

Musa began his European expedition at Eredivisie side VVV Venlo and his impressive performance in the Dutch side saw him sign for Russian topflight side CSKA Moscow.

Having won three Premier League titles, one Russian Cup and two Russia Super Cups with the Horses in his four-year spell, he joined Leicester City on July 8, 2016, for a club record of £16.6 million at that time.

Following his inability to tie down a regular place at the King Power Stadium, he was sent back to CSKA Moscow on loan, before teaming up with Al Nassr in 2018 on a permanent deal.

The Asian outfit beat several European clubs to the signing of the speedy forward who impressed at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia with two goals in three matches.

His presence would serve as a big boost for Sai Masu Gida who are in the race to emerge as Nigerian league champions for the fifth time. They are second in the NPFL log after accruing 36 points from 19 matches played so far.

His agreement includes a clause that allows him to leave when and if he can find a club in Europe.

He joins as a Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) elite player with the aim of boosting their image as well as helping Musa maintain his fitness as he continues his search for a European club.

“Anything that improves the image of Nigerian football is something that I strive to embark on and Kano Pillars holds a special place in my heart,” the former Leicester City player told BBC Sport Africa as he considered the deal.

“It’s the team that helped me become the professional footballer I am today, so this is more than just football but a very strong bond.”

Musa, who has built two training and fitness facilities in Northern Nigeria to help grassroots football, scored 18 goals for Kano Pillars to finish as top scorer in the 2009/10 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season.

His desire to help promote the image of the domestic league on social media is what the LMC, which runs the NPFL, is hoping to benefit from this season.

Musa made his 96th appearance for Nigeria in the 3-0 win over Lesotho in Lagos in the Super Eagles final Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.