Who is the 17-year-old Nigerian striker George Ilenikhena turning heads in Belgium?

Born in Lagos, made in France, 17-year-old striker George Ilenikhena has made himself known to football fans in Belgium this season with his quality performances. Just who is he?

Ilenikhena moved to France aged just three, and he fell in love with football from a tender age. His love for the game and prodigious talent took him to French Ligue 2 outfit Amiens, where he featured regularly for their youth sides.

In November 2022, he made his professional debut aged 16 for the club as a substitute in their Coupe de France match against Aiglon du Lamentin, a match which ended 10-0 to Amiens, with Nigerian striker Tolu Arokodare scoring twice.

In the summer, the youngster joined Belgian champions Royal Antwerp for a club-record fee of €6 million, a huge sum for a modest club to pay for a 16-year-old.

Ilenikhena has not disappointed since moving to Belgium and has scored thrice in the league, averaging a goal every 46 minutes. He was among the goals for his side in their 6-0 thrashing of Standard Liege at the weekend, as he scored just five minutes after replacing former Tottenham man Vincent Janssen.

Ilenikhena played in selected France U-16 groups alongside PSG star Warren Zaire-Emery, but has no real international experience at any level. The left-footed striker is one to watch this season after The Guardian named him as one of the best players in the world to have been born in 2006.

The teenager plays alongside two known Nigerian stars Chidera Ejuke and Alhassan Yusuf for Mark Van Bommel’s side, and may be open to representing the country of his birth.

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