Blessing Eleke

Blessing Eleke (born 5 March 1996) is a Nigerian professional footballer who plays as a striker for J1 League club Kashima Antlers. Before joining Kashima, Eleke had played for Gorica, Olimpija Ljubljana, Ashdod, Luzern, Beerschot, and lastly for Gençlerbirligi while on loan from Beerschot.

Blessing Eleke
Personal information
Full name Blessing Chibuike Eleke
Date of birth (1996-03-05) 5 March 1996 (age 26)
Place of birth Nigeria
Height 1.90 m (6 ft 3 in)[1]
Position(s) Striker
Club information
Current team
Kashima Antlers
Number 19
Youth career
–2014 Flying Sports Academy
2014 Gorica
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2014–2015 Gorica 37 (15)
2016–2017 Olimpija Ljubljana 43 (10)
2017–2018 Ashdod 27 (4)
2018–2020 Luzern 58 (17)
2020–2022 Beerschot 22 (1)
2021–2022Gençlerbirligi SK (loan) 24 (7)
2022– Kashima Antlers 4 (1)
*Club domestic league appearances and goals, correct as of 23:36, 26 November 2022 (UTC)

Professional careerEdit

Early life and careerEdit

Eleke grew up in Lagos with his three brothers and four sisters.[2] He started playing football at Flying Sports Academy in his home country, before having an unsuccessful trial at Serie A club Sassuolo.[2] Later on, he admitted that the transition from Nigeria to Europe was a difficult task to handle at the beginning.[2]

SloveniaEdit

Eleke signed for Olimpija Ljubljana in January 2016 for a reported fee of 750,000.[3] On 10 April 2016, in a league fixture versus Zavrč, Olimpija's manager Nikolić reportedly called Eleke a "black idiot", for elaborately celebrating an injury-time equalizer in an eventual 1–1 draw.[4] Nikolić's contract was eventually terminated by mutual consent on 18 April 2016.,[5][6] although Eleke asked club president Milan Mandarić not to sack the manager.[7] Eleke revealed that, although he considered leaving the club, he did not want to see his coach sacked, as he did not believe in eye for an eye.[3]

Israel and SwitzerlandEdit

In August 2017, Eleke transferred to Israeli Premier League club Ashdod for a reported fee of €800,000.[8] On 27 July 2018, Eleke signed a four-year contract with Swiss Super League club FC Luzern for a reported fee of approximately 1 million Swiss francs.[2][9] After being cleared to play for Luzern,[10] he managed to score on his debut, helping his club get past Lugano 4–2.[11]

Gençlerbirligi SKEdit

On 1 September 2021, Eleke was loaned out to Turkish club Gençlerbirligi SK for the rest of the season.

Kashima AntlersEdit

On 1 August 2022, Kashima Antlers confirmed an agreement with K Beerschot VA for him to join on a complete transfer, becoming one of the few Nigerian footballers to play in Japan. [12]

HonoursEdit

Olimpija Ljubljana[2]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Blessing Eleke" (in Japanese). Kashima Antlers. Retrieved 22 September 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d e Gutzwiller, Raphael (12 September 2018). "Blessing Eleke: Stürmer in Gottes Namen". Luzerner Zeitung (in German). Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Eleke: I Almost Quit Olimpija After Being Called 'Black Idiot'". Complete Sports Nigeria. 13 April 2016. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  4. ^ "Olimpija Ljubljana manager keeps job after calling own player 'black idiot'". The Daily Telegraph. 12 April 2016. Retrieved 11 May 2017.
  5. ^ "Predsednik NK Olimpija Milan Mandarić pojasnil razloge za prekinitev sodelovanja z Markom Nikolićem". nkolimpija.si (in Slovenian). 18 April 2016. Retrieved 11 May 2017.
  6. ^ "Epilog Nikolićeve neprimerne opazke: slovo od Olimpije" (in Slovenian). rtvslo.si. 18 April 2016. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
  7. ^ "Blessing Eleke: Olimpija forward 'begged' for coach to stay". BBC. 19 April 2016. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  8. ^ "Blessing Eleke zapustil Olimpijo, ki je bogatejša za milijon evrov" (in Slovenian). Sio1NET. 27 August 2018. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  9. ^ "Blessing Eleke wechselt zum FC Luzern" (in German). Radio Pilatus. 27 July 2018. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  10. ^ "FCL-Stürmer Blessing Eleke darf spielen" (in German). Radio Pilatus. 3 August 2018. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  11. ^ "Eleke trifft bei seinem Debut für den FC Luzern" (in German). rontaler. 5 August 2018. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  12. ^ "ブレッシング エレケ選手の完全移籍加入クラブ間合意のお知らせ". antlers.co.jp (in Japanese). Kashima Antlers. 1 August 2022. Retrieved 1 August 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

External linksEdit