In the fast-paced modern game, teams need to be able to transform from defence to attack and revert back like clockwork and the one player who is largely responsible for facilitating this is the defensive midfielder.
On the eve of the 2020/2021 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season, fans of Jigawa Golden Stars looked forward with a sense of optimism and some trepidation, as the new campaign got underway, in full anticipation of a routine impressive display of their coveted midfield warlord, Richard Christopher. An expectation that hasn’t been dashed so far this season, expectedly the former Bussdor FC midfielder has started all 9 matches for the Dutse based outfit racking up series of eye-catching display in the middle of the park.
The Abia state born midfielder, fits in the current age where controlling possession and dictating the tempo higher up the field has become tactical trends. Boasting of an average height it surprises football pundits how he never lost in aerial duels whenever there’s a contention, thanks to his amazing jumping ability that left him fondly dubbed as “king of aerial duel” by team-mates.
The 19 year old was intrumental in their quest towards bagging an NPFL promotion in 2019, where he roared in the heart of the midfield for the north eastern based side in all matches, much to the delight of coach Gilbert opana. In an exclusive chat with Footballflakes Lagos, coach Gilbert had this to say of his coveted asset.
“Since 4 seasons Richard has been with the team generally he has been doing exceptionally good, he is really the spine of the team, he makes things possible even when he isn’t directly involved. He has done so well defensively, ever relying on him in winning balls and initiating offensive attack”.
The 49-year-old Delta state born tactician was full of encomiums for his highly rated player as he never withheld words that were befitting of him. When quizzed about his relationship with his teammates, coach Opana stressed on his goodwill both on and off the pitch.
An unrelenting customer on the pitch, he is what you can call a “midfield destroyer” who helps collapse attacks whenever the opposition teams lose to break, with possession of great scoring abilities, always taking long range shots with sheer accuracy.
He also serves as something of a conductor, pointing out instructions in the swirling Jigawa Golden Stars midfield, he seldom dwells on the ball or even giving in to any fantastic offensive ideas rather preferring to feed the likes of front men Samuel stone and Abdullahi lala, an exchange aimed at initiating attacking football.
As the Dutse based faithfuls continue to witness the effectiveness of this midfield prodigy week in, week out, it remains to be seen how long coach Gilbert Opana can still hold on to his prized asset with speculations of a move building up beyond the shores of nigeria and that of Africa; of a truth the world is truly at his feet.