|Pic courtesy Daily Record UK|
There seems to be light at the end of the tunnel for former Golden Eaglets play-maker Rabiu Ibrahim, as he has begun to show glimpses of his potential at Kilmarnock FC under the tutelage of new boss Allan Johnston.
Ibrahim, who was part of Yemi Tella's all conquering team at the Fifa U-17 tournament in South Korea in 2007, has seen his career plummet after all the hype that accompanied his talent.
He signed for Sporting Lisbon just before the tournament after been scouted by Ajax Amsterdam, PSV Eindhoven and a host of European clubs. However he didn't make the anticipated progress as he only made one senior appearance for Sporting before crossing over to Holland to team up with PSV Eindhoven.
The diminutive midfielder ,who was touted a some stage as the new 'Jay Jay Okocha' didn't get much joy with the Eredivisie side, and after playing only two official games was off to Celtic in Scotland,where he managed just a game for the Bhoys as fear began to emerge whether he could ever make the grade in Europe.
However, this season seems to be his break-out year as the arrival of new Killie boss Allan Johnston has seen him chalk up games and is gradually discovering his sulky skills that made him a fans favorite early in his career.
Johnston looks to have identified Ibrahim , who has the pivot of his midfield and enthused the player is the man to supply that passes his strikers need.
“When I arrived I didn't know much about him but I saw his skill straight away." Johnston told the Daily Record.
“He’s been brilliant, really creative. Some of his skill is unbelievable to watch.
“We’re just trying to work on his end product and add goals to his game. He’s started to put some crosses into the box and he’s always trying to look for that forward pass in behind that strikers love.
Ibrahim, 22, who also has former Kano Pillars midfielder Gabriel Reuben as a teammate at Kilmarnock ,has bulked up a bit. His lightweight frame which was a bother, is now a thing of the past as he tries to establish himself as a potent force in the Scottish top flight.
Allan Johnston, who replaced Kenny Shiels at the 'Killies' this season,feels the Nigerian can can finally establish himself and prove his talent and he echoed same to the Daily Record.
“When you have people of his quality supplying crosses and passes, the players up front will score goals.
“I took him off last week when we went down to 10 men. He played terrifically but it doesn't help when you're a man down.
“He is just getting his fitness as he’s not played a lot of football for a while – he’s just now getting used to being a first-team regular rather than a sub. He’s getting stronger and stronger. He has a great opportunity to do well here. He’s done so the last couple of weeks and has to make sure he continues that way.”
It will surely be a plus for the country if Rabiu Ibrahim can get back to his best as the Super Eagles can make do with a bit more creativity in the middle.