Barcelona forward Asisat Oshoala provides inspiration in many ways. She rose from a tough upbringing to become a history making forward with a passion for her African roots as well as her ability to score goals from anywhere on the pitch.
Oshoala had to hide her passion for soccer growing up under strict parents in Nigeria and eventually dropped out of school and left home to pursue her dream of playing professional soccer.
‘It was not an easy decision but with the benefit of hindsight, I think it was the right one.” Oshoala told African TV outlet SuperSport before the 2015 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations Final.
Dropping out of school never seems like the right decision, but Oshoala’s young career has already shown otherwise. She piles up accomplishments almost as fast as she scores goals for Barcelona.
Oshoala made a name for herself in the 2014 U-20 Women’s World Cup in Canada when she was the leading goal scorer in the tournament as Nigeria made it all the way to the final before falling to Germany. The performance opened up a move to Liverpool, where in 2015 she made history by becoming the first African player in the FA Women’s Super League and was named BBC’s Women’s Footballer of the year for 2015.
Four years later, Oshoala’s career high point came at the 2019 World Cup, when she scored the goal that eventually helped Nigeria advance to the knockout rounds in a 2-0 win against South Korea.
Oshoala’s Nigeria teammates have nicknamed her “the female Seedorf” for her talents as a midfielder before she became the prolific striker we see her as today. Now the 26-year-old goes by “Superzee” and draws inspiration from African icons both in and out of soccer.
The four-time African Player of the Year has become an inspiration in her own right, not only with her playing career, but with her efforts to create opportunities for Nigerian girls with her Oshoala Foundation, which sponsors an annual Football4Girls tournament in Nigeria.
"We only work with girls because boys have enough opportunities anyway," Oshoala said of her foundation. "It is hard for girls in Africa to play football and other sports."
Oshoala has worked hard to emerge from Nigeria as the latest in a line of female players that includes Mercy Akide. After Oshoala started in Nigeria and moved on to Liverpool, she eventually moved to Arsenal, China, and, now, Barcelona, where she plays alongside superstars like Caroline Graham-Hansen, Jennifer Hermoso, and Alexia Putellas. Although those three might consider Oshoala the superstar. Since coming to the perennial Spanish champions in 2018, she has 40 goals in league play and even one in the 2019 Champions League Final.
Oshoala is second on the team with 13 goals so far this season, and recently helped Barcelona capture the Copa De La Reina title. With another La Liga title looking more and more likely, Oshoala will soon be adding more winners medals to her collection, and adding to her growing legacy.