Special talent

Victor Moses is back from injury and should his current form and fitness continue, he could soon be back at the top, writes James O’Brien.

It is easy to forget that Victor Moses is still only 24.

Transfer fees for his services total GBP11.5 million, he has played for two of the biggest clubs in England, won the Africa Cup of Nations and featured at a World Cup, yet his best days are still to come.

That he has made it this far is testament to Moses’ character. Born in Lagos, Nigeria, he was forced to move to England at the age of 11 after both his parents were among thousands killed by rioters.

He soon went from asylum seeker to a Crystal Palace youth player, quickly announcing himself as a youngster with huge promise by scoring 50 goals for the club’s Under-14 team.

Moses continued to find the net at a rapid rate and earned his professional debut at the tender age of 16, the first of 16 appearances as Palace reached the Championship play-offs in 2007/08.

His performances earned him a new four-year deal but he did not see it out, joining Wigan in the top flight for GBP2.5 million in January 2010 after Palace went into administration.

Roberto Martinez, Wigan’s manager at the time, said: “He is a special talent. Now he has the chance to grow in the Premier League.”

Injuries initially prevented Moses from showcasing his talent but he became a regular during the 2011/12 campaign and helped Latics pull off a great escape as they avoided relegation on the final day.

His performances caught the attention of Chelsea and he impressed them that much that they came back with a fifth bid, which was accepted by Wigan, just days after their season opener against the Blues.

The transfer fee was reported to be GBP9 million and Chelsea looked to get their money’s worth in Moses’ first season at the club when he featured 43 times across six competitions, including the FIFA Club World Cup.

Perhaps Moses’ greatest moment in football so far came midway through that campaign as he got his hands on the Africa Cup of Nations. He represented England at U-16, U-17, U-19 and U-21 levels but chose to play for the country of his birth and the decision was vindicated by Nigeria’s success in the 2013 tournament.

Moses’ season ended in disappointment when he was an unused substitute for Chelsea in the Europa League final against Benfica, despite scoring in each leg of both the quarterfinals and semifinals. Nevertheless, he had his first winner’s medal at club level.

Moses has not played for the Blues since, with Jose Mourinho’s arrival in the summer of 2013 and a host of new signings sparking his exit to Liverpool on a season-long loan.

He netted on his Reds debut against Swansea but only scored once more during a frustrating season which saw him make just nine starts.

Despite spending so much of the 2013/14 campaign on the Liverpool bench, Moses earned a call-up to Nigeria’s World Cup squad and played in two of his country’s four games, his second appearance coming in their 0-2 last-16 defeat to France.

Moses returned to England and quickly found himself at another club, this time Stoke for the 2014/15 season. Within a couple of months, he was at the centre of a diving storm after being accused of cheating to win a penalty against Swansea.

Swansea manager Garry Monk said: “For me, Moses has cheated the referee into making that decision, and he should be punished for that, for clear cheating. It is one of the most blatant dives you will ever see. You can go and watch a million games and you won’t see more of a dive than that.”

Moses suffered a thigh injury soon after which sidelined him for two months but has impressed for the Potters on his return. Should his current form and fitness continue, he could soon be back at the top.

FACTFILE NAME: Victor Moses POSITION: Forward CLUB: Stoke D.O.B: 12/12/1990 NIGERIA APPEARANCES: 24 NIGERIA GOALS: 7

MOMENT TO REMEMBER: Winning the Africa Cup of Nations with Nigeria.

MOMENT TO FORGET: Watching Chelsea's Europa League final success in 2013 from the bench despite playing a key role in getting them there.

© PA Sport