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From zero to national hero — Stanley Nwabali



From zero to national hero -- Stanley Nwabali

Prior to the AFCON tournament, no one cared to know who Stanley Nwabali was, but after semi-final heroics against South Africa, Nigerians want to know if he is married.

Contrary to what current Nigeria has become and despite the rising economic instability of the country, Nigerians still remain a happy group of people who don’t need much to be made happy, but over the last few days, none has made Nigerians happier than the person identified as Stanley Nwabali.

Like the wind, Stanley Nwabali sailed into minds, wowing Nigerians and the world at the AFCON tournament, and bringing to Nigerians a new pride in their country.

But Nwabali is no wind. He is just a man who took advantage of a rare chance given to him at the 2023 African Nations Cup tournament, to displace Super Eagles’ no. 1 from the starting lineup.

From being a no name, the Chippa United goalkeepr rose to become a house hold name, mentioned in the vein of former Super Eagles champ; Vincent Enyeama.

I only know about Chippa United' - Super Eagles goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali  dismisses Kaizer Chiefs rumours | Nigeria

But again, who is Stanley Bobbi Nwabali?

Stanley Bobbi ‘Bobo’ Nwabali, born on June 10, 1996, happens to hail from Rivers State, Nigeria, and raised in Port Harcourt within an Ogba Christian household.

Growing up, he found inspiration in the renowned German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, whom he considers his role model.

Nwabali embarked on his professional football journey in 2019 when he joined Go Round FC, initially showcasing his skills as a striker. However, he later transitioned to the position of goalkeeper, demonstrating his versatility and talent on the field.

In 2020, he made a significant move to Enyimba before further advancing his career with stints at Lobi Stars and Katsina United, ultimately landing with Premier Soccer League club Chippa United in 2022.

His prowess between the posts did not go unnoticed, and in 2021, Nwabali earned his debut cap for the Nigerian national team in an international friendly against Mexico held in Los Angeles, United States.

Chippa United supporting goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali and Nigeria ahead of  Afcon semi-final against Bafana Bafana | Nigeria

The pinnacle of Nwabali’s international career came in December 2023 when he received a call-up for the prestigious 2023 Africa Cup of Nations hosted in Ivory Coast. His standout performance in the semi-final against South Africa solidified his status as a key player for Nigeria.

Nwabali’s heroics, including two crucial penalty saves during the shootouts, earned him the title of Man of the Match, propelling his team to a 4-2 victory after a 1-1 draw and securing their place in the tournament’s final.

Should Nigeria go on to lift the AFCON at the final against Ivory Coast, Nwabali’s story will become a tale of grass to grace, zero to hero, no name to a house hold champ.