From super-sub to king of Euro goals

Super Eagles striker Cyriel Dessers had a torrid time as a substitute but a return to the Netherlands has ignited his career, with the striker now the Europa Conference League’s top scorer with 10 goals, writes KELVIN EKERETE

A cap Super Eagles striker Cyriel Dessers is the most talked about player this season in the inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League after storming the competition by scoring a record 10 goals in 11 games to help Feyenoord claim a place in the final of the competition. .


The 27-year-old, on loan from Belgian side Genk, has scored 10 of Feyenoord’s 28 goals during the campaign, accounting for 35.71% of the club’s goals in the competition.

His brace against Olympique de Marseille on Thursday helped the Dutch win 3-2 in the first leg of their semi-final, while they will also bank on his form to help them progress to the final in their trip. to take on Ligue 1 giants Marseille at the Orange Velodrome next Thursday.

His performance in the semi-final first leg win also earned him the Player of the Week award, beating compatriot Ademola Lookman of Leicester City, team-mate Luis Sinisterra and Lorenzo Pellegrini of AS Roma.

Dessers established himself as a hero for Feyenoord after becoming their most goalscoring player in European competition with 10 goals, replacing the nine goals previously held by legendary Pierre Van Hooydonck.

In European competitions this season, only Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema has scored more. The Frenchman has found the back of the net 14 times in the UEFA Champions League, while Olympique Lyon’s Karl Toko-Ekambi tops the Europa League scoring charts with six goals.

The sweetness of the hearth

Before becoming one of the goalscoring kings of European competition, Dessers had to play second fiddle to compatriot Paul Onuachu during his time at parent club Genk, which he joined from fellow Dutch club Heracles Almelo in 2020.

But his desire not to heat the bench while Onuachu remained the number one striker led him to new adventures, and it was a return to Holland with Feyenoord.

Coming mostly from the bench, he could only score seven goals in 34 games in all competitions for Genk, but at Feyenoord he scored 18 in all competitions this season.

When he arrived at Feyenoord last summer he suffered the same fate, as he was named second striker, behind Bryan Linssen, but he shone in that role, coming on as a late substitute and scoring goals late and important.

However, he has thrived in the Europa Conference League as a main striker, with Feyenoord officials now eyeing a permanent transfer for the Nigerian striker.


Although he had to play second fiddle for the past two seasons, Dessers always believed in his abilities if given the chance.

“I always believed in what I could do, but you depend on the circumstances. Coaches, injuries, competitors,” Dessers told NOS.

“In Genk, there was a striker (Onuachu) who scored 35 goals, then you even sat on the bench with twenty goals. But I know I can do it and I’m glad it’s coming out now. Also on a big podium in European competitions.

The house of Rotterdam!

Speaking about his future, Dessers revealed his intention to stay at Rotterdam, the home of Feyenoord, and hopes Genk and his current club can reach an agreement on this.

“Genk is a big club, but I like Feyenoord. I am happy here. It’s a great team with a good coach from whom I learn a lot. Everything is well arranged.

“It also depends on what is decided in the boards of Genk, Rotterdam and maybe elsewhere. Players have less influence than people think,” added Dessers.

career advancement

The 27-year-old started his career with modest Belgian side OH Leuven.

In the 2013/14 season, the then 19-year-old Dessers stood out in Leuven’s reserves and youth competitions, scoring over 20 goals.

With the club in danger of relegation and several first-team forwards out of form, injured or suspended, he got his first first-team minutes in a 3-2 away loss to Mons.

But he had been attracting attention and Lokeren snapped him up in April 2014 on a two-year deal.

At Lokeren he scored four goals in 32 games before moving to Dutch side NAC Breda, where he shone, scoring 22 league goals in 36 appearances in 2016/17.

FC Utrecht called and the forward netted 12 goals in 49 games, before another spell at Heracles Almelo, where he scored 15 goals in 26 appearances.

From Heracles he returned to Belgium, but his adventure in Genk was not a smooth experience. However, he is back in the Dutch league scoring in goal.

Nigerian Connection

At international level, Dessers hasn’t had a chance to prove himself in green and white since his debut two years ago.

The striker was born in Tongeren, Belgium to a Belgian father and a Nigerian mother, but opted to represent Nigeria at international level.

On 4 March 2020, he was called up by former Super Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Sierra Leone but was unable to play.

He eventually made his Nigeria debut in a 1–1 draw against Tunisia in a friendly on 13 October 2020, for his only Eagles selection.

However, with his current form, Dessers looks like a safe bet on the Eagles’ roster for the AFCON qualifiers against Sierra Leone in June when a new coach will be appointed for the national side.

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All rights reserved. This material and any other digital content on this website may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without the prior express written permission of PUNCH.

Contact: [email protected]

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