By Andrew Randa
After the brouhaha that emanated from Daniel Etor’s disappearance at Rangers International and his eventually show up in Iran, I decided to take a peep into the Iranian top flight to see what was the catch.
Etor is a bundle of talent and one wonders why Iran of all places. Has to be the money definitely as I’m well aware the top teams there pay relatively well, in fact, better than some European countries and others in North Africa.
I know a bit about Iranian football, I remember Ali Daei quite well. He racked up a record number of internationals back int he day and also played at the World Cup in 1998.
Then there is the sad and unfortunate demise of former Flying Eagles goalkeeper Sam Okoye in Iran in 2004.
So when Etor decided to take his trade to Iran, the ‘ojokukuru’ in me decided to do a bit of research on the Iranian top flight league and even though I didn’t find anything I wasn’t aware of, I stumbled across a player who caught my fancy.
His name? Godwin Mensha, a big burly striker with good finishing skills who has just moved to Persepolis arguably the biggest team in Iran who play regularly in the Asian Champions League.
The 27-year-old is the biggest African attraction in the Persian Gulf Pro League after his goals earned him a big money move to the league winners.
It has been a long journey for the striker who grew up in Lagos but never played organized football before finding his way to Spain where he teamed up with Compostella in the 2014/15 season.
Mensha scored four goals in 29 appearances for the Spanish side before crossing over to Malta to lace his boots for modest side Balzan. He changed clubs for the third time in three years as Mosta, who just won the Maltese league title signed him up to beef up their attack.
10 goals in 16 appearances saw him cross borders again as Iran beckoned on him with Paykan Football Club his destination. In true nomadic style, Mensha was back on the move again after an impressive season with Paykan where he notched up 15 goals 28 matches.
Persepolis was surely watching as they splashed the cash to get the Nigerian striker signed up for the 2017 season. He has also repaid that faith by scoring in his debut game for the club in the new season.
Mensha is a good finisher (at least by the videos I’ve seen) and has pace to burn. He plays like a younger version of Yakubu Aiyegbeni with the good position sense too. Can I also add he loves to celebrate his goals with somersaults like Obafemi Martins?.
Iran might not exactly be Spain or Italy but Mensha’s ability is not in doubt but can he do it in the big league?
“Absolutely yes,” he said when I managed to track him down.
“The league in Iran is tough even though I agree that most Nigerians usually cast their eyes on t he major leagues in Europe.
“I’m happy playing here. The fans have shown me love and I intend to pay them back with goals and good performances.”Mensha added.
The striker also revealed he still has plans of playing in Europe after his experience in Spain and has not ruled out playing for the Nigerian national side.
Mensha has not played for Nigeria at any level but believes his dream can still come to fruition if he continues banging in the goals.
“I have to secure my future, that is the most important thing, for now, that is why I’m here but I’m also ambitious,” he revealed.
“If one doesn’t play in Europe it is quite difficult to break into the national set up so I do understand why I’m not there (with the Super Eagles).
“All I have to do is to keep working hard and scoring. I also hope to return to Europe someday and show what I can do. Every player wants to play for his country and I’m no different. I will keep working hard to actualize my dream.” he added.
With Nigeria’s attack brimming with bright talents, it looks like a long walk for Mensha but then stranger things have happened in football.
Maybe, just maybe, Mensha might fulfil his dreams one day.