Victor Moses escapes hardship and scales heights at Chelsea

Chelsea newcomer has come a long way since his tragic childhood in Nigeria

Tonight should be the latest peak in the rise and rise of Victor Moses. A home debut, under lights, in the Champions League, against iconic opposition in Juventus; it is some change from Wigan Athletic and Crystal Palace.

But it is a world away from war-torn Nigeria, which Moses had to flee in tragic circumstances at the age of 11.

He has been on a remarkable journey, far beyond what should be asked of a 21-year-old – and one that renders the differences between levels of football utterly irrelevant. Moses had to leave his native country in 2002 after his parents were killed in religious violence, something he is understandably reluctant to talk about.

Growing up with a foster family in south London, Moses came to professional football through an unlikely route: Whitgift School in South Croydon. He was a precocious talent, coached by Colin Pates, the former Chelsea full-back. "The coaches always told me I'm good enough to play for any team in Europe," said Moses.

"They encouraged me a lot. Colin Pates used to tell me about what he used to do at Chelsea back then, how amazing it was. I never knew that one day I was going to be a Chelsea player." But now he is, and is thrilled by the challenge: "I just keep working hard. I work hard and try to get to the top. And seeing myself in the Champions League is amazing."

Moses was always too powerful and too dangerous for the Championship and again for a Wigan team struggling to stay in the top flight. He helped to drag Wigan to safety again last season and then found himself part of Roberto Di Matteo's rebuilding of the Chelsea squad towards youth, pace and style.

He made his Chelsea debut against Queen's Park Rangers last Saturday but Moses revealed just how much European competition factored in his decision to move to Stamford Bridge. "It was so important," he said. "I've never played in the Champions League before in my career. And being at Chelsea, I'm looking forward to our game against Juventus. It will be a good experience."

Moses has memories as strong as anyone of that night in Munich four months ago, when Chelsea became champions of Europe, setting up the campaign which begins tonight. "The final Chelsea played against Bayern Munich, I watched that," said Moses. "It was so good for an English side to bring the trophy back. It was exciting to see Chelsea win the cup."

Chelsea did not make their approach for Moses until after the final and the prospect of playing for the European champions was too attractive to pass up. "Anyone would like to be out there playing the Champions League final and winning the trophy and stuff like that," Moses said. "It's a good moment to be part of it. I'm part of the Chelsea team now I'm delighted I'm a Chelsea player and looking forward to it."

Where better to start? The group stage often throws up non-contests but not tonight, as a side with 28 Italian titles and two European Cups comes to Chelsea. "It will be great playing against a team like Juventus as well," said Moses. "They've got quality players like Andrea Pirlo."

Gigi Buffon will probably be the best goalkeeper Moses has ever faced. "They have done well for their country," Moses said of the veteran pair. "If you look at what they did at the Euros, it is not easy to get to the final. You can tell how good they are."

Victor Moses was speaking at the launch of Battlefield 3 Premium Edition, which is out now in the UK for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor