Oshoala’s transformation from a teenage footballing novice to the continent’s fastest-rising star was the story of the 2017/18 season. She established herself as a truly international player after joining Swiss club FC Basel in the summer, scoring the winning goal in the first leg of the Women’s Champions League semi-final against Lyon.
Oshoala burst on to the African football scene with a hat-trick as Nigeria beat Mali 3-1 in their first-round qualifier and then scored the opening goal in the final as they beat South Africa’s Orlando Pirates 1-0 in Calabar. Oshoala said she decided to make the move from Super Falcons to Swiss club side FC Basel in order to move a step closer to fulfilling her ultimate dream of winning the World Cup.
When the opening goal against Pirates was scored, Nigeria football became the talk of the country. Yet little did the now-international striker know that what she was about to achieve in Nigeria would take her to international fame in a few short months.
They say the journey starts at home; and so it has. Oshoala’s grandmother ‘Tinubu’ helped nurture her passion for the beautiful game and encouraged her to give the game a go.
Born in Imo State, Oshoala said she remembers her grandmother’s love for the game. “Growing up with my grandmother I always knew that I had passion for the game. She also encouraged me to try out at the very young age,” Oshoala told BBC Sport.
Her grandmother would often lead her to soccer matches when her father was at work. “We used to watch football together. When her husband was at work it was my father to take me out.
“My dad used to buy tickets and we went to football games to watch the World Cup, men are serious.
“The environment where she lived as a mother of six, she gave every love and comfort to them. She taught us to make sacrifices for our people, even if it’s not running away from home at a young age,” Oshoala said.
Oshoala said her grandmother has so far received her spirit of commitment towards football as well as her love of life. “My grandmother is very strong and single-minded in her beliefs. She has always believed in me. She has told me that I’m a good person because of the good things I do to support our people and Nigeria.
“She is my guide, my strength, my fountain of strength. In the face of struggles and hard times, my grandmother has always encouraged me to persevere, she is my best friend and my best teacher,” Oshoala said.
Apart from playing alongside several first-class footballers in her hometown, Oshoala also played in a women’s league in Benin City, the administrative capital of Edo State where she was a reserve player for JS Bridge FC. “Football is football in Nigeria. I started playing in amateur teams like the one in the centre of Benin City,” Oshoala said.