Victor Moses escapes hardship and scales heights at Chelsea
Chelsea newcomer has come a long way since his tragic childhood in Nigeria
Wednesday 19 September 2012
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
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