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George Ilenikhena: A diamond from Lagos

George Ilenikhena Antwerp
George Ilenikhena: A diamond from Lagos

Born on August 16, 2006 in Lagos, George Ilenikhena is making a name for himself in Belgium. The young teenager, who grew up in France where he arrived at the age of 3, is currently Antwerp's luxury joker.

George Ilenikhena couldn't find the back of the net on Sunday. After coming on as a substitute in the 97th minute of stoppage time, he had just enough time to see Genk reduce the score to 3-2 in a victory that his Antwerp team secured in the first half-hour with three goals. The 17-year-old will therefore not be scoring again as a wild card, as he has done three times in the last 4 games for the Belgian champions. Four entries that put the Lagos-born player in the spotlight.

At 17 years and 74 days, according to Opta, George Ilenikhena became the youngest player to score in 2 consecutive Jupiler Pro League matches since Romelu Lukaku in 2010 (16 years and 312 days) and all this with very little playing time. Since the start of the season, Ilenikhena has played just 114 minutes in 11 appearances.

George Ilenikhena already knows all about precociousness records. He is the youngest goalscorer in the history of Amiens, who launched him in Ligue 2 last year when he was just 16. The Picards, who then transferred him to Antwerp in August for 6 million euros when his market value was estimated at 1 million euros, predict a bright future for him.

Nigeria, where George Ilenikhena was born, is a machine for producing strikers. For years, Nigerian centre-forwards have been working wonders on European pitches, in Scandinavia and in the big 5 European leagues. This season, for example, Victor Boniface is the lethal weapon of Bundesliga leaders Leverkusen. He follows in the footsteps of Victor Osimhen, who last season helped Napoli return to the Italian championship by finishing top scorer in Serie A.

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