Sani Emmanuel: Onazi pays for ex-Nigeria U-17 star's surgery

Nigeria's Sani Emmanuel winning the Golden Ball at the 2009 Under-17 World Cup
Nigeria's Sani Emmanuel was awarded the Golden Ball for the best player at the 2009 Under-17 World Cup

Nigeria international Ogenyi Onazi is helping to pay the medical expenses of Emmanuel Sani, who was the joint top scorer at the 2009 Under-17 World Cup.

Emmanuel, who is now 26, starred a decade ago on home soil as he scored five goals to help Nigeria finish runners up while he won the Golden Ball as the tournament's best player.

Despite a move to Italian side Lazio with Onazi his career stalled due to long-term achilles tendonitis problems.

Onazi responded to a social media appeal by paying the hospital in Lagos for his former Nigeria and Lazio youth teammate's second surgery.

Emmanuel is hoping that this latest surgery will allow him to resurrect his career.

"I got a call from the doctor that [Ogenyi] Onazi has paid Naira 1.4m (US$4,000) for my surgery and also transferred 50k for my ticket to Lagos," Emmanuel announced on social media.

"Thank you very much, brother. May God continue to bless you. The surgery is scheduled for 2nd of December 2019."

His success at the Under-17 World Cup saw a 17-year-old Emmanuel have trials at English clubs Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, but eventually went to Italy in 2011.

But while Onazi progressed through the youth rank in Rome, Emmanuel's injury and a nomadic career path took him from the high of Italy to playing in the Swedish lower tier in 2015, via spells in Switzerland and Israel.

He also made two appearances for Nigeria at the 2011 Under-20 World Cup in Colombia.