Everyone knows the deadly sniper, few know the human. Who is the brand new Golden Boot Paul Onuachu (27)? During a survey with teammates and intimates, the same answer always comes back: “A big teddy bear that never gets angry.” Although the Nigerian striker lost his smile once this summer.
Not a stylist or metronome, but a scoring machine. Paul Onuachu showed off the Golden Shoe last night in Antwerp Expo thanks to an insatiable appetite for goals. 34 pieces in total last calendar year. Insane numbers.
And to say that the adventure of the tall African in Europe had started so difficult. He has to wait more than 2 years for his first official goal for FC Midtjylland, which Onuachu found out thanks to a partnership with football academy FC Ebedei.
Under Jess Thorup (ex-Genk and -Ghent), the striker is completely unfurling. Onuachu grows into an unsustainable phenomenon in Denmark and cashes in on his many hits in 2019 with a transfer to Racing Genk for 6 million euros.
Also in Limburg it takes some getting used to the remarkable profile of Onuachu. A striker of more than two meters who still dares to show off technical highlights. But when his killer instinct starts to pay off again, no one will doubt.
“Paul has grown unbelievably much in Genk,” said team manager Pierre Denier. “Not only by scoring so many times, but also by the way he plays. It’s unbelievable how someone of his height can have such a technique. He can work his way between 3 people, kick a perfect cross pass and he does its defensive job too.”
I am convinced that Paul can make a difference in all major competitions. Maybe now it will…
In short: the type of striker that everyone is looking for in modern football. The collective surprise was therefore great when last summer no club urged Racing Genk to remove Onuachu.
Deterred by the sky-high price tag (25 million euros?) His age (27)? Or the result of the empty wallet due to the corona crisis? The fact was that they first noticed a depressed Onuachu around the Cegeka Arena – normally always the cheerfulness itself.
“Paul was indeed disappointed then”, CEO Erik Gerits nodded yesterday after the gala. “It played in his head at the beginning of this season. It makes perfect sense, because he deserved his big transfer. And I’m convinced that Paul can make the difference in all the major competitions. Maybe it will come about now…”
Teddy bear of 2.01m
No one would begrudge him it. Because anyone who praises the footballer Onuachu also immediately praises the person next to the field. Even there he remains an enigma even for intimates.
“Even we as teammates don’t know him completely yet,” admits captain Bryan Heynen. “Paul is someone who likes to be on his own and has a calm character. You would describe him best as a big teddy bear who is always good-natured. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him angry.”
A little further on, goalkeeper Maarten Vandevoordt agrees: “Paul is a caring and warm person. People may not immediately expect that because of his height, but he is a really sweet guy. He treats us like family.”
When I call Paul, he always says: what are you doing? I’m relaxing!
Only with his Dutch girlfriend Tracy does the Nigerian thaw completely. The couple met by chance at Schiphol airport. Love at first sight.
“What is Paul like as a person? Always busy with football and always calm”, Tracy laughs. “When I call him, he always says: what are you doing? I’m relaxing!”
Soon with a Golden Shoe of size 46.5 on the closet.