Bernard Bulbwa flipped the ball over his head with a back heel and then lobbed it into the top corner from outside the area, an attempt only made by extremely skillful footballers.
Bulbwa, who narrowly missed winning the 2013 U17 FIFA world cup in Dubai with his counterparts, is known for his creative ability to score from the angles which some professional players find difficult to manoeuvre.
He scored the winning goal that earned Nigeria its seventh Africa Youth Championship, AYC title.
“I am used to scoring that way,” Bulbwa told PREMIUM TIMES. “It is my thing. I find it very easy to score from that position; you can ask my coaches and even some players, they will tell you they have seen me score that way before.”
Bulbwa became an African hero after he scored that wonder goal at the finals of the All African Games in Senegal.
The goal also earned him call ups from foreign clubs and a special invitation to the U23 National Team led by the former Super Eagles Coach, Samson Siasia.
He said his football career started on a difficult note.
“I dropped out of junior secondary school to join a football academy,” he said. “There was no one to help me through school and as at that time I have been playing football well as a young boy.”
Bulbwa started his career at a young age with Mkar Rocks, an amateur side in Gboko from where he moved to Lagos in 2012 to join Shuttle Sports Academy.
He was advised to brace up because Nigeria is a country full of great football talents like him.
He resolved to work extra hard to pull through.
Having missed being in the World Cup winning U17 squad, he was overjoyed when he was invited to the Flying Eagles team by Manu Garba, head coach of the U20 National team.
“Well, when the Coach listed me on the final squad I was more than overjoyed,” he said. “I was almost going to be part of the team that won the U17 FIFA world cup in Dubai but I said to myself, I will wait for my time, which I did.”
Bulbwa told PREMIUM TIMES he could not contain his joy when he was named as a part of the final squad.
“I called my mother to inform her about my inclusion in the final squad of the U20 that will represent Nigeria at the Africa Youth Championships,” he said. “I went to see her and she prayed for me, I scored the winning goal.”
It was the quest to give his indigent mother a new lease of life that had initially inspired the Flying Eagles forward, born and Bred in Benue state to exploit his talent.
“It was not easy for me and my mother, who had to beg sometimes to train me,” he recalled. “She would go to the neighbours, even farmers and rich people in the village to beg before we could eat. No good clothes and even shoes; life was hard, so I signed the contract to give her a good life.
“She is the reason why I push so hard.”
After the death of his father in 2002, when he was only five years old, his mother became a widow left with seven children to cater for.
“I am the youngest,” he explained. “My mother suffered a lot because of us and saw us through life when my dad died in 2002. I never really grew up to know him. I was really young then, so you can imagine.”
When Bulbwa dropped out of school to pursue football professionally, he never knew he will be signed to a foreign club in a short time.
However, his stunning goal has now set him on a sure path to a bright future. English premiership clubs, Stoke FC and Manchester City, as well as African side, Esperance of Tunisia battled to sign the 18 year old star, but he opted for Esperance FC because, according to him, the club had a better terms and figures for him.
“Everyone is complaining why an African country and not an European country,” he said. “It is not about Europe for me. The figures were okay and the best of all the offers coming my way, and they also promised to put me in the first team that’s why because I want to be playing week in, week out.”
Having signed a five-year contract with Esperance FC, where Nigerian players like, Garba Lawal, Julius Aghahowa, and Michael Eneramo kick-started their foreign clubs careers, he is looking to the future and his personal goal is to focus and become successful as he does not want to disappoint his fans.
“Few years back, I was nobody,” he noted. “Sincerely, I don’t want to disappoint anybody, even my fans. I just want to focus. I don’t want to let people down. I don’t know where I will go from here but I will work extra hard to become great in my career.”
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