AFCON 2023: Stanley Nwabali, The Safe Hands Sending Nigeria To Football Hall of Fame

Rivers State born Stanley Bobo Nwabali wanted to play football like many children of his age grade, one who makes penetrating runs, dribbles and makes intelligent passes at the most difficult moments while also scoring world-class goals many years back but posterity would rather have him stopping and catching goals from entering his own net as he has become a national treasure to Nigeria.

The football path would change during his course of playing chances when he got to man the sticks instead at grassroot club, Go Round FC, based in Omoku, his home-state. The coach converted him from just kicking balls to catching them with his hands which has further improving him with precise intelligent plays from between the sticks as a goalkeeper.

His passion for becoming a footballer took him to Go Round FC, a club based in Omoku, Rivers State where his youth coach converted him from a striker to a goalkeeper. Being a player who grew up playing more with his legs than hands gave him more confidence to play with his legs even as a keeper.

This paved way for his move to African super club, Eyimba FC in 2019, winning the Nigerian Professional Football league [NPFL]. Not one to rest on his oars and a battle with injuries, he moved to Lobi Stars FC before leaving a year later for Katsina United FC.

Nwabali, 27, found his footing again in Katsina United FC, winning many accolades such as being a constant feature in the ‘NPFL Team of the Week’, mutliple ‘Man of the Match’ awards calling if up with a mains team call up in 2021. The fans’ favourite moved on to South African side, Chippa United a year later. Even at Chippa United FC, Nwabali continues to create moments of endearment with the footballing world.

The national call-up experience may be one that Nigerians are not totally happy about as the home-based Super Eagles were thrashed 4 – 0 by South American footballing nation of Mexico in an international friendly match organized between the two countries.

Currently one of the beat players and now dubbed the best goalkeeper at the African Cup of Nation [AFCON] tournament hosted in Côte d’Ivoire, Stanley Nwabali is putting confidence in Nigerians as he continues his heroics between the sticks. He recently saved two penalties to send the ‘Giants of Africa’ to the tourney’s final against the host.

He is a beacon of hope, resilience and hardwork to many footballing Nigerian hopefuls, sharimg his talents and staying humble through dedication. For many lovers of the game, he is been touted to continue his service in Europe soon.