Meet Emmanuel Dennis, Nigerian football’s rising star
Mosunmola Ore, Abuja
A product of the Nigerian football system, Emmanuel Dennis has been rated the most exciting and talented young footballer to come out of the country in recent times.
The Nigerian-bred wonderkid is a Nigerian professional footballer who was born on November 15, 1997, in Yola, Adamawa State. Dennis was raised in Yola, where he also obtained his education. He is the youngest of two siblings. He is often referred to as “Emmanuel Dennis” or “Dennis Best”
Dennis started his football journey at Kwara Football Academy Ilorin, he played at the academy for six years before moving to Europe to pursue his dream of playing professional football. He first joined the Ukrainian club, Zorya Luhansk, in March 2016, where he quickly made an impact in his debut season, scoring six goals in 26 appearances.
Dennis spent the majority of the first half of the season on the bench until making his UEFA Europa League debut against Feyenoord on November 3, the match ended 1-1. He participated in the Ukrainian team’s remaining group-stage matches against Fenerbahçe and Manchester United, after an impressive performance against Feyenoord. Zorya finished bottom in the group and was eliminated after losing both games 2-0.
His performances at Zorya Luhansk caught the attention of Belgian club side, Club Brugge, who signed him on a four-year deal in the summer of 2017 for €1.2 million. In his first season at Club Brugge, Dennis established himself as a key player, scoring five goals and providing three assists in 19 league appearances. He rocked the number 42 jersey while at Club Brugge.
He also played a vital role in helping the club reach the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League, where he scored two goals in a 2-2 draw against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. He continued to impress in his second season, scoring nine goals in all competitions, including a memorable brace in a 2-1 win against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in the UEFA Champions League.
The skilled striker spent the 2020-21 season on loan at German club FC Köln, where he made nine league appearances and scored two goals.
The transfer of Dennis between Watford and Club Brugge was confirmed by the former on June 21, 2021. Two days after that, a five-year agreement was struck between the player and the English club. He scored on his Watford debut against Aston Villa on August 14, 2021, as Watford won 3-2.
As a result of his mind-blowing performance on the field of play, Dennis was nominated for the November 2021 Premier League Player of the Month award. He scored and provided two assists in a 4-1 win over Manchester United and netted a goal against Leicester City, a match they lost to Leicester with a 4-2 scoreline during that period.
Following Watford’s relegation to the Championship, Dennis was sold to Premier League side, Nottingham Forest, in 2022.
Dennis has also represented Nigeria at the international level, making his debut for the Super Eagles on September 7, 2019, in a friendly match against Ukraine, which ended in a 2-2 draw.
He was allegedly refused to be released by Watford when the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) called him up to the team for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.
In the third round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification, Dennis played for Nigeria, but unfortunately, the Super Eagles lost to the Black Stars of Ghana on away goals with an overall score of 1-1.
He has since made eight appearances for the national team, scoring one goal.
Emmanuel Dennis currently plays in the English Premier League. His current club is Nottingham Forest. Dennis signed a four-year contract for an undisclosed fee with the English club on August 13, 2022.
Asides from being revered for his speed and finishing ability, Dennis is also known for his versatility, as he can play as a central striker or on either wing. He has been praised for his work ethic and determination, and his performances have earned him the nickname “Dennis the Menace” among Club Brugge fans while playing for the Belgian club.