Emilio Nsue: The heart and soul of Equatorial Guinea at AFCON 2023

© Imago

FOOTBALL Emilio Nsue: The heart and soul of Equatorial Guinea at AFCON 2023

Festus Chuma 13:00 - 23.01.2024

Emilio Nsue is shining at AFCON 2023, where he is the current top scorer with five goals, defying age in a stunning football resurgence.

Over the years football has witnessed its fair share of twilight tales but few are as compelling as that of Emilio Nsue Lopez.

At 34, an age where many players see their international careers wane, Nsue has defied the odds, illuminating the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) with his striking prowess and leading Equatorial Guinea's remarkable journey.

Nsue, traditionally known for his robust defending and agility as a winger in various European clubs, has undergone a dramatic transformation. 

In a striking role reversal, he has adopted the no. 9 jersey for Equatorial Guinea, a change that has not only rejuvenated his career but also invigorated his national team's prospects in the prestigious tournament.

His performances in Cote d'Ivoire have been nothing short of breathtaking. 

The hat-trick against Guinea-Bissau was a masterclass in precision and poise, marking him as the first player since Soufiane Alloudi in 2007 to achieve such a feat in the AFCON. 

This historic accomplishment also crowned him as the oldest player to score a hat-trick in the competition, rewriting the annals of African football history.

Nsue's scoring spree did notstop there. He continued to dazzle, netting a stunning brace against the host nation, Cote d'Ivoire, bringing his tally to five goals and catapulting him to the top of the golden boot race. This achievement places him ahead of renowned strikers like Baghdad Bounedjah of Algeria, Burkina Faso's Bertrand Traoré, and Ghana's Mohammed Kudus.

However, Nsue's contributions extend beyond his individual accolades. His goals have been the lifeline for Equatorial Guinea, propelling them into the heart of the knockout stage battle. 

Born in Spain, Nsue's football journey began at Mallorca, where he showcased his talent in over 150 games, including four seasons in La Liga. His career took him to England, where he played pivotal roles for Middlesbrough and Birmingham City, and later, he ventured into Cypriot football with stints at APOEL and Apollon Limassol. In 2022, he signed with Bosnian Premier League club Tuzla City before joining his current club InterCity.

Eligible to represent both Spain and Equatorial Guinea, Nsue initially donned the Spanish colors at the youth level, winning European championships at the under-19 and under-21 levels. 

However, in 2013, he chose to represent his father's country, Equatorial Guinea, at the senior international level. His debut was marked by a goal in an unofficial friendly against Benin, where he also captained the team.

Nsue's leadership qualities shone brightly as he captained Equatorial Guinea in the 2015 AFCON, where they finished fourth. He left an indelible mark by scoring the opening goal of the tournament, showcasing his knack for rising to the occasion.

The 2023 AFCON has been a testament to Nsue's enduring talent and resilience as his exceptional form at an age where many players consider retirement is a reminder of the timeless nature of true talent and determination.

As Equatorial Guinea looks to advance in the tournament, all eyes will be on Nsue. Whether he can lead his team to the podium remains to be seen. However, one thing is clear: Emilio Nsue Lopez, defying age and expectations, is not just playing football; he is sculpting a legacy, one electrifying goal at a time. 

Follow Pulse Sports Kenya WhatsApp Channel for more news.