In a football world filled with countless stars of today, so many of us are curious about who is waiting in the wings. That search for that next wunderkind; a youngster who has the potential to make us stand up and marvel at how they are masters of their craft despite their tender age remains embedded in the minds of millions of fans around the world.
With this in mind, 101 Great Goals continues its weekly series surveying U21 players across the globe during the 2022-23 season. Some of them you will have no doubt heard of, while we hope to bring you a few new names to spark your curiosities every now and then.
- Name: Antonio Nusa
- Age: 17
- Position: Forward (CF, LW, RW)
- Place of Birth: Ski, Norway
- Citizenship: Norway
- National team caps: 5 (Norway U18)
- Current club: Club Brugge KV
- Current Market Value (per Transfermarkt): €4.5m (£4m)
- Potential suitor(s): N/A
Background & Overall Assessment
Quietly one of the most influential nations in western history, Norway has maintained a key presence on both the political and socio-economic fronts for centuries dating back to the Viking age.
Norse Vikings and settlers had begun to raid, pillage, and eventually settle what is today eastern Ireland - including being the founders of present-day Dublin - as well as the Hebrides, Faroe Islands, Shetland Islands, Orkney Islands, and the Isle of Mann. Famous names the likes of Harald Fairhair, Erik Thorvaldsson, and Leif Ericson would go on to transcend time for beginning the unification of Norway (Fairhair’s case), while Iceland, Greenland, and modern-day Canada were discovered and settled by Thorvaldsson and Ericson respectively.
Though there has not been a lasting global impact thanks to Norway, much of the landscape in the west has felt its presence and the same can be said for the nation regarding the football world. There certainly have been Norwegians to be among the notable ranks of talented players across the continent, and you all know those names, too. Players like Ole Gunnar Solskjær, Tore André Flo, John Arne Riise, and John Carew plied their trade at giant institutions in the vein of Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Valencia during some of the biggest moments across their respective histories.
But for a nation that has only ever qualified for one European Championship while making just two appearances at the World Cup (1994, 1998) post-Second World War, what is currently brewing in the Scandinavian nation in terms of a budding generation has been a long time coming. Headlined by Erling Haaland, Martin Ødegaard, and a host of others, there is a real chance that Norway can finally reach the same continental influence as neighbors Denmark and Sweden in the coming years, with 17-year-old Antonio Nusa sure to have a say as well.
Born in Ski to a Nigerian father and a Norwegian mother, the soon-to-be 18-year-old versatile forward has already made a name for himself in the north after coming through the youth ranks at Langhus IL and Stabæk Fotball before graduating into the first-team setup at Stabæk and becoming the second-youngest goalscorer in Norwegian top-flight history behind the aforementioned Ødegaard during the 2021 Eliteserien season.
Nusa immediately began to field interest from bigger clubs on the continent and eventually arrived in the historic city of Brugge in August 2021 for €3m to continue his progress at talent factory Club Brugge KV where it would not take him long to make history once again when he became the youngest scorer in Brugge history after coming off the bench to bag a goal in the Jupiler Pro League Playoff title-deciding match against fairytale side Union Saint-Gilloise.
Featured in the Guardians NextGen 2022 list, the talk surrounding Nusa is not a maybe, but rather a “when” regarding the trajectory of his career and the likelihood of his being able to reach the very top of the footballing pantheon on the continent.
The youngest player to score during his Champions League debut in September against Atlético Madrid before Brugge would go on to shock Group B while finishing ahead of both Bayer Leverkusen and the aforementioned Atléti, Nusa has already drawn a host of plaudits from sections of Norwegian media as well as current Brugge club-mates.
Gunner Halle, a former Norwegian international between 1987-99, as well as the current assistant at second division outfit Strømmen IF, was full of praise for the budding winger; “Antonio has some extreme skills with the ball that make him very exciting. He can challenge, get past opponents and create imbalance, but what really sets him apart from others at that age is that he has finishing qualities as well.”
Described as a tricky and technical winger who boasts pace in abundance and tactical versatility, Nusa is framed with an ability to be deployed effectively on either flank as a traditional winger on the right or a goal-scoring threat tucking in on the left. Nusa is also a self-described chaos merchant who fancies himself after his idol, Neymar, according to Nusa while speaking to Norwegian media outlet Aftenposten nearly two years ago. “Neymar is my role model because he creates chaos on the pitch with his dribbling, just like me. He is one of the best in the world.”
Now dubbed by some as the Norwegian Neymar, additional comments from those that saw him as a bright-eyed youngster back at Stabæk continue to ring true, with former coach Eirik Kjono quoted as saying “Antonio is going to develop into a fantastic player. It is rare to see such a good dribbler in Norway. His speed, balance, and technique are something else. It will be exciting to follow his career.”
Former Stabæk club-mate Mats Solheim was in agreement with his assessment of Nusa, stating “I can see similarities to Neymar in Nusa’s movements and in the way he uses the ball. There is still a small gap between them, but he can get there.”
As a player with qualities not often seen in Norwegian football, but so often vitally necessary on the international stage, Nusa’s rapid rise both at home and abroad should serve him well in the coming years with both Euro 2024 and the 2026 World Cup on the horizon, while his budding profile would certainly translate well to the next level outside of Belgium given the number of “chaotic” players that have found considerable success in Europe’s top-five leagues. He is certainly one to watch both now and in the future.