Nigeria international striker Paul Onuachu says he is proud to win the Ebony Shoe, which is awarded to Belgium’s best African player or player of African descent.
It completes a hat-trick of awards for the 26-Year-old, who had already won the Belgian Professional Footballer of the Year and top scorer’s awards for 2020-21 season. The Genk striker becomes the first Nigerian to win the award in 25 years and comes after he scored 33 goals to emerge as the top African goal scorer in Europe this season. “It doesn’t happen to every footballer and I feel proud, honoured and delighted to win this special award as a Nigerian and significantly as a professional from Africa,” Onuachu said. “To pick up three awards in a season is unbelievable and I thank God, my teammates and all the fans of Genk and Nigeria for the incredible support. “I thank the organisers of the Ebony shoe award for their consistent and relentless support to African players in Belgium because this prize will continue to motivate us to do more.” Onuachu won the prize ahead of Angola’s Clinton Mata (Club Brugge) and Belgian Théo Bongonda (Genk), who is of DR Congo descent. He also paid tribute to the players who he beat to the award, including the Anderlecht duo of Lukas Nmecha and Albert Sambi Lokonga – who finished fourth and fifth. “They are fantastic players too and they all made an important impacts for their clubs. It shows Africans are making a great mark here in Belgium,” he added. Onuachu becomes the first Nigerian to win the Ebony Shoe since Celestine Babayaro’s success in 1996 while he was playing for Anderlecht. Nigerians dominated the award’s infancy with Daniel Amokachi of Club Brugge winning the maiden edition in 1992 and again in 1994, RFC Liège Victor Ikpeba (1993) and Eendracht Aalst’s Godwin Okpara (1995) followed suit before Babayaro’s success.