“It takes 10 years to be an overnight success,” a popular maxim goes. But for Victor Moses, it took four exhausting, frustrating and uncertain years to get here.
After three underwhelming loan spells at Liverpool, Stoke City and West Ham, Moses returned to Chelsea short of confidence, iffy, and confused about place at the club.
Fast forward to the night of Friday, May 13 he has been drenched with champagne, celebrating a Premier League title with Chelsea. He’s not just celebrating a title that has been won by his club and teammates, he is toasting to the deserved recognition of his talent, the return of his self-belief, results of his hardwork, perseverance and determination.
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He wanted this moment, to prove his doubters wrong. Moses has certainly been one of Chelsea’s most important players this season.
This was highly unlikely when Jose Mourinho returned to Chelsea in 2013, the manager without any musing, threw Moses out on loan to Liverpool. Undesired and discarded. The next season it was Stoke City, the next, West Ham.
“He never spoke to me. I thought in my head, "He's got his own players already. I think we chatted a couple of times on the phone - he asked if I was alright at Liverpool, but that was it," Moses told .
Yes, that was it. 'You’re not good enough', was the clear message from Mourinho. It was dispiriting.
With that feeling, Moses returned to Chelsea for pre-season in 2016, he and his agent started planning another loan move. Then in a twist of fate, Antonio Conte wanted him to stay.
Initially, just a fringe player, Moses made five substitute appearances for Chelsea before that 3-0 loss at Arsenal in September that brought about a rigorous change. Following that defeat, Conte made a tactical switch to his favourite 3-4-3 set-up, he needed soldiers for his new formation and Moses stepped in.
Moses is clearly not blessed with Pedro’s deadly goal instinct, neither does he possess the flair and nimble feet of Eden Hazard. His qualities, Conte exploited to devastating effect. His impressive stamina, strength and fitness made him the perfect fit for the right wing-back position. Harrying that right wing with vim and vigour gave Chelsea a new level of penetration and width that made them so deadly.
He started Chelsea’s next Premier League games and owned that position. With the new 3-4-3 set-up and Moses as a right wing-back, Chelsea went on a record equalling 13 consecutive league wins that saw them top of the table in December.
They never left.
Moses became so essential for Chelsea that it was difficult for them to maintain shape when the Nigerian was missing. The penetration, width and pace he brings to that right side, brought him so many critical plaudits this season.
“Moses has important qualities: technique, physical strength, the ability to cover 70 metres of the pitch. I find it incredible that someone like him has been underestimated,” Conte told Gazzetta dello Sport in November 2016.
Moses made 22 consecutive Premier League starts from September 2016 to April 2017. 28 league starts and 33 league appearances in total this season.
He is the Nigerian player with the most Premier League appearances for a title winning team ever.
made 25 appearances when Chelsea won the league title in 2010 and 18 when they won it again in 2015
made 23 appearances for Arsenal’s winning title side of 2002 and just 10 of 2004.
It’s been remarkable how good Victor Moses has been.
He seemed speechless after the win on Friday.
“CHAMPIONS !!! Words can't describe the emotions right now! We did this together! #CFC Family!” he wrote on Twitter.
This time last year, he was almost through with an injury-ravaged loan season at West Ham, now he’s a Premier League winner. It must be surreal to him.
He has moved from just annual loanee to a celebrated Premier League winner.