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Shehu Abdullahi: From World Cup snub to Nigeria stalwart

Shehu Abdullahi: From World Cup snub to Nigeria stalwart
From ESPN - October 12, 2017

While Nigeria's Alex Iwobi stole the headlines as the Super Eagles clinched their place at the World Cup with a 1-0 victory over Zambia on Saturday, Abdullahi Shehu also deserves immense credit for establishing himself as a key figure in Gernot Rohr's side.

The Anorthosis Famagusta utility man made the CAF Best XI of Matchday 5 of World Cup qualifying, and has become accepted as the solution to one of Nigeria's long-term problems - the right-back spot.

However, the road to stardom has not been smooth sailing for the 24-year-old.

The two-time NPFL winner with Kano Pillars was given his first taste of international football by coach John Obuh in 2013, when the coach used the holding midfielder as a right-back to great effect at both the CAF U-20 and FIFA U-20 World Cup tournaments.

Shehu measured up to standard at both competitions, but with no imminent foreign deal in sight, he returned to begin preparations for a third season with Masu Gida.

On the eve of the 2014 CHAN tournament, the Super Eagles team were in dire need of reinforcement in midfield due to late withdrawals and injuries to key personnel, and Shehu was handed an impromptu invitation.

Once given an opportunity to replace the injured Ikenna Hilary in the opening group loss to Mali, there was no looking back for Shehu, who was entrusted with midfield dutiesalongside Rabiu Ali and Ugonna Uzochukwu for the CHAN Eagles as they won the bronze medal.

In recognition of his fine performances in South Africa, he was rewarded with an opportunity to model the Super Eagles 2014 World Cup jerseys together alongside Ejike Uzoenyi and Chigozie Agbim, equally earning a spot on the team for an international friendly against Mexico at the Georgia Dome.

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