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Nantes and Nigeria winger speaks to FIFA about the highs and lows of his career, from his early years playing in Slovakia to captaining his country.
Nigeria have opened with two draws in CAF qualifying for the 2026 World Cup
Moses Simon, who captained the team against Zimbabwe, speaks to FIFA
Nantes player reflects on the highs and lows of his career
In the Simon family, discipline has always been a prized value.
Born in 1995 in Jos, Nigeria, to a father who was in the military, Moses Simon was raised in an army barracks and quickly got used to 5am starts. Although expected to follow in his father’s footsteps in the armed forces, he opted to pursue a completely different career – albeit one that also required discipline – in football.
At the tender age of 18, this graduate of the GBS Academy in Lagos flew to the Netherlands in the summer of 2013 to take part in pre-season training with the Ajax reserves, although ultimately the Amsterdam club decided not to retain him.
The young Nigerian took the setback it in his stride and soon after signed for Slovakian outfit AS Trencin, arriving in the throes of winter. “At first I was a bit scared,” Simon admitted in an exclusive interview with FIFA.
By dint of hard work and discipline, that fear quickly dissipated, paving the way for an impressive top-level career. After Trencin, the wide man gained further experience at Gent, where he won the Belgian championship, then at Spanish club Levante, before a 2019 move took him to French Ligue 1 side Nantes, with whom he won the Coupe de France in 2022.
The 28-year-old has also enjoyed some great experiences with the Super Eagles. His first international competition was at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Turkey 2013™, before he had even turned 18. “I was young, but I had the ability,” Simon recalls. An unused squad member on that occasion, he would return to play an important part at the next edition two years later in New Zealand.
However, the winger is still waiting for his first experience of a senior FIFA World Cup™. After featuring in the qualifiers for Russia 2018 and making then-coach Gernot Rohr’s provisional squad for the tournament, he had to withdraw due to injury. Four years later, the Super Eagles lost out on a place in Qatar after being beaten in a play-off by Ghana on away goals. “Missing the World Cup is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy,” Simon said.
The Nigerian is now hoping to qualify for the FIFA World Cup 26™ despite the Super Eagles beginning their qualifying campaign with consecutive 1-1 draws with Lesotho and Zimbabwe. In conversation with FIFA, he looks back on the ups and downs of his club and international career to date.
FIFA: Your career has not followed a typical path. How did you find moving to Slovakia aged just 19?
Moses Simon: It was hard. I was in Holland before going to Slovakia, but it was during the summer. And I left to Slovakia during the winter, in January. So, it was hard with the wind especially. I didn’t expect it to be so cold. And I had never seen snow before! At first, I was a little bit scared. I was wondering: if someone kicks me, what would the pain feel like? I thought I was going to play just like I had in Holland, but it was totally different. But the important thing is that I had a Nigerian player with me [Kingsley Madu]. We had played together in Nigeria. It was good because we could communicate with each other, we helped each other. Everywhere I go, I always meet a Nigerian or a Ghanian player. We speak the same tongue. It’s like meeting a brother. You can interact. They are like a family that try to help you.