Stanley Nwabali: Nigeria Goalkeeper Receives Hero’s Welcome in His Home Town After AFCON Heroics

Stanley Nwabali: Nigeria Goalkeeper Receives Hero’s Welcome in His Home Town After AFCON Heroics

Edwin Kiplagat
February 19, 2024 at 8:12 AM
In this article:
S. Nwabali
Nigeria logo
CAF Africa Cup of Nations logo
  • Stanley Nwabali was incredible for Nigeria at the 2023 AFCON
  • The Chippa United goalkeeper helped Nigeria reach the final
  • Thousands welcomed the goalie as he returned to his village

Stanley Nwabali is still celebrating his incredible performances at the recently concluded 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast.

Although the Super Eagles suffered a painful defeat in the final to hosts, Ivory Coast, Nwabali was one of Nigeria's stand-out players.

The Chippa United star received a hero's welcome in his village as thousands of fans thronged to see one of their own.

Stanley Nwabali, Nigeria, Chippa United, 2023 AFCON, Ronwen Williams, Jose Peseiro
Stanley Nwabali's goalkeeping heroics sent Nigeria to the 2023 AFCON final. Photos by Visionhaus and Celebrity Precious (Instagram).
Source: Getty Images

Nwabali played every game for Nigeria in Ivory Coast and narrowly missed out on the Golden Glove. South Africa's Ronwen Williams beat him by getting one more clean sheet, per Transfermarkt.

The goalkeeper unseated perennial No. 1, Francis Uzoho, at the start of the tournament and never looked back.

In a video posted online, hundreds of fans can be seen running towards the venue for the reception in Port Harcourt. A convoy of cars can also be seen going to welcome their star.

In another video posted on Instagram, Nwabali, dressed in a traditional outfit, was spotted walking on the red carpet as fans cheered at full volume.

How Nwabali became Nigeria's hero

A few years ago, the River State-born goalkeeper bounced around the Nigerian league before securing a big move to South Africa's Chippa United.

In fact, he was playing in the country's second division with Go Round FC in 2019 before moving to giants, Enyimba, that same year. He changed clubs three more times before moving to South Africa.

It has been quite a journey for the 27-year-old. His selection in Nigeria's first game against Equatorial Guinea raised a few eyebrows, but he repaid the faith.

"I was there in South Africa for four days to speak with [Nwabali], I spoke to the coach and a lot of people. I watched the training, the practice, and I watched one match. In the final list, we decided to add him to the list after the whole evaluation," said Nigeria coach, Jose Peseiro, via Punch Nigeria.

Three best destinations for Nwabali

Sports Brief earlier reported on the three best destinations for Nwabali if he decides to leave Chippa United after his superb 2023 AFCON performance.

According to reports in South Africa, Nwabali's agent, Mohammed Lawal, has confirmed interest from Premier Soccer League giants, Kaizer Chiefs.

However, it seems interest in the former Enyimba keeper extends beyond Africa, as a possible move to Europe could be on the cards for the 27-year-old.

Edwin Kiplagat photo
Edwin Kiplagat
Edwin Kiplagat has five years of experience in journalism working as a Sports Editor at Africa Insight Communications and ESPN. Edwin Kiplagat is a Bachelor's Degree holder in journalism from the Multimedia University of Kenya.