Zaidu Sanusi: from rejected stone to chief cornerstone

The Super Eagles star clinched Porto’s 30th league title after a brilliant finish at Benfica

Fortune, they say, favours the bold. As Porto faced Benfica on Saturday night, fans waited for a victory to put celebrations in full swing. They’d have to wait.

For 93 minutes, the league leaders struggled to make a breakthrough until two minutes to the end of the encounter.

Defending a corner deep, Porto latched on to a loose ball in their area and two players raced the entire length of the pitch to deliver the sucker-punch. The man who sealed Porto’s fate on Saturday was once dubbed not good enough for the club.

Zaidu Sanusi scored a brilliant stoppage-time winner against Benfica to help Porto secure their 30th league title after a 1-0 victory at Estadio da Luz.

It has been an intriguing journey for the 24-year-old, from playing in lowly Mirandela four years ago to helping Porto win a record 30th league title.

Sanusi has had quite a rollercoaster of a journey, especially since he joined Portuguese giants. Although a tireless speedster, Sanusi was not one of the favorite names at the Dragao, especially to the fans.

The Porto fans consider the former Santa Clara man to be an average left-back, and they’ve never held back when it comes to criticizing him.

In fact, to give Sanusi some competition, the club had to sign Wendell to take over the left-back role. After the arrival of the Brazilian, Sanusi was linked with a move to Turkey, but nothing concrete was produced from those talks.

However, despite Wendell’s presence, Porto boss Sérgio Conceição never gave up on Sanusi. Although Sanusi saw a reduction in game time, the Nigerian star has never been considered second fiddle to Wendell.

The 24-year-old has made 38 appearances in all competitions, while Wendell has 27.

Despite the fans’ criticism, Sanusi has always believed in his abilities, and so has his boss.

Conceição once again trusted Sanusi to man the left-wing when his side locked horns with rivals Benfica. Asides from the rivalry between the two teams, Porto needed a victory at Estadio da Luz to claim the league.

And in an outstanding fashion, Sanusi returned the favor by scoring a striker’s goal against Benfica in stoppage time. Asides from the fact that it was the goal that helped them reclaim the title after losing it to Sporting last year, Sanusi’s commitment has been exceptional.

He had no business making that blistering dash forward, he could have sat back and left the job to his attacker, but Sanusi did not. His fantastic run, which gave Pepe an option to pass, was indeed one deserving of a league trophy.

Sanusi’s future is still in the balance, but for sure, he has written his name in Porto’s history books, and his name would continue to ring at the club for a long time.

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