Anthony Okpotu: From Libyan league outcast to NPFL pacesetter

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Anthony Okpotu's hat-trick against El-Kanemi Warriors is his third treble of the season

Nothing is new under the Sun? Think again. Just like we have never seen a team fought back from a 4-0 first-leg defeat in UEFA champions league knockout stages until a Neymar-inspired Barcelona did it against PSG earlier this year and just how we haven’t seen a team successfully defend the ‘Ol big ears’ trophy since it was rechristened in 1992 until Zinedine Zidane’s well-equiped Real Madrid whacked everything and everyone to their second successive European Cup.

Like those instances, we have never seen anyone, no matter his goal-poaching prowess, head home with NPFL Matchday balls three times in a season. Until, Anthony Okpotu went and done it.

At first Anthony Okpotu, a Lobi stars Academy product who made his debut at the tender age of 17, didn’t look a pace-setter but a conformist to the rife school of thought which all budding NPFL stars belong. He jetted out of the country when he was just 19 after two commendable NFPL (then it used to be Glo Premier League) seasons with the Lobi senior team. Off he went to Libya’s Al Ittihad FC for a reported fee of ₦59 million but he didn’t attain his anticipated success and affluence as the club refused to pay for his wages for almost a year and half that he had to drag the club to CAF and FIFA. That financial setback and the looming storm of crisis drifting through the country forced him back home.

Like a long lost son that he is, the Management of Lobi Stars welcomed him back into the system in 2015 and he began to flourish again.

Fast forward 2 years later, he isn’t just one of the hottest properties in Nigerian local football realm but the first footballer, living or dead, to score 3 net-rustling hat-tricks in a single NPFL season, that’s half of all six NPFL hat-tricks scored this season.

He scored 3 against Sunshine Stars on Matchday 19, put another 3 past MFM’s Folarin Abayomi on Matchday 23 before his heroics at the Aper Aku stadium on Sunday against a combative El-kanemi side.

Okpotu started the goal festival on 11th minute, feigning and bamboozling a defender before plugging the ball beyond John Lawrence and just 9 minutes later he doubled it, displaying his inherent poacher’s instincts to guard home Sunday Akleche’s grass cutting center before the El-Kanemi defence gifted him another chance with an inexplicable mistake and it was like giving Dracula a blood transfusion, Okpotu calmly slotted his 17th NPFL goal of the season beyond the on-rushing Lawrence.

As that ball hit the back of the net, a trendsetter was born and a huge dent was dug into our “nothing is new under the Sun” argument.

 

About Shehu Idris Tẹjumọla 110 Articles
Shehu Idris Tẹjumọla​ is a final year student of Mass Communication at the University of Lagos, with the sobriquet "Unchoppable Eba". He is a football fanatic, a voracious reader of football contents and an Indefatigable football writing junkie.

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