Leicester City forward Ahmed Musa may be finding it tough to make a headway with the Foxes, but the Nigeria striker appears to be making great strides elsewhere: in business.
Straight after leaving camp this week, in the wake of the Super Eagles sealing qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Musa headed off to his home in the northern Nigerian city of Kano. It was not a social visit, at least not completely.
Musa was in Kano to formally open his petrol station, one of a growing number of business concerns the 24-year-old is gradually building as he looks to invest wisely for his future.
This follows the opening of a N500m ($1.4 million) sports complex and leisure centre, also in Kano, earlier this year. He also opened a mini shopping mall a few years ago. These are ventures which, in a cash-based economy like Nigeria, are guaranteed milking cows, especially the petrol station.
An oil-producing country, Nigeria’s downstream sector is a particularly lucrative business enterprise, and if well-managed and scaled, could well see the player earn more than he does playing football.
Musa told KweséESPN he was looking to the future: “It is important to think about life after football.
“We will not play forever, and the best time to start thinking about that and doing something about it is when you are still playing.”
There is an almost identical pattern to the career trajectory of the majority of top African football players. It usually starts from being poor, to struggling beginners, then the big European break, earning unbelievable sums of money and living the high life. Retirement eventually follows, and with it comes a drop in earnings, and lifestyle.
In Nigeria, where the domestic league is still in the early stages of emerging from the poor organisation of yesteryear, opportunities for post-career development are extremely limited within football circles.
These opportunities are mostly in coaching, like for 1994 World Cup stars Augustine Eguavoen, Samson Siasia, and Emmanuel Amuneke, or in player management like former Lazio forward Stephen Makinwa.
These opportunities are not just limited, but usually poorly remunerated, particularly at club level. And, outside of the senior men’s team, the national team jobs are almost as poorly-remunerated as the clubs, with regular and extended delays in payments.
Unlike in Europe, and even South Africa, opportunities for media work are also rare, to the point of being practically non-existent. Many players are simply left scraping the bottom of their former high-paying barrels to survive.
More recent retirees, and even current players, have chosen to invest in real estate, which provides significant but seasonal income, as rent in Nigeria is usually paid annually rather than monthly.
Musa has chosen to break the mould, and delve into an area where no other Nigerian footballer has dared to go. It is a remarkably bold move for the forward, and one which sets him apart from his peers.
A Sports Centre, shopping mall, and now petrol station. Is there anything else Ahmed Musa plans to invest in?
“Wait and see,” is all he will offer, suggesting that there is indeed more to come.