From Orphaned Asylum Seeker To Premier League Champion: How Victor Moses Triumphed Over Tragedy

Chelsea star Victor Moses helped the Blues claim their fifth Premier League title in 2017, the culmination of a remarkable tale of triumph over adversity.

Arguably no player in Premier League history has put more personal pain to one side in search of their dream. Moses was a carefree child playing football barefoot in the streets of Lagos, Nigeria in 2002, when he was given earth-shattering news no kid can comprehend.

His father Austin and mother Josephine had both been murdered, victims of heightened religious tensions in the region. Orphaned at the age of 11, his remaining family found the money to send Moses to England in search of a better life.

He arrived an asylum seeker who spoke no English, placed with foster parents and sent to school in Norwood, South London.

Image: Victor Moses/Instagram
Image: Victor Moses/Instagram

Faced with the prospect of finding new friends and a barrier between languages, Moses found solace and common ground in football. It was on the pitches and parks of Surrey that Moses began to rebuild his young life.

A precocious teenage talent soon emerged, capturing the attention of Crystal Palace. Moses impressed on trial for the Eagles and signed schoolboy terms, making a move that would put him on the path to success.

Palace placed their new academy starlet in one of the area's best private schools, Whitgift. Given access to fantastic facilities, coaching and tuition, Moses thrived.

"Coming from where I was coming from, it was a different ball game." Moses told BBC Sport. "The treatment there was good, the education amazing. I was very happy that Palace gave me the opportunity to go to a school like that. I really enjoyed my time there."

Image: PA
Image: PA

Moses also made rapid progress on the pitch, proving a prolific centre forward for Whitgift's youth teams. He led the under-14 team to success in the FA Youth Cup in 2005, scoring all five goals in a 5-0 final win.

Palace were so convinced Moses was ready for the big time he made his Championship debut aged 16, quickly becoming a fan favourite at Selhurst Park.

Wigan Athletic soon arrived to offer Moses his ticket to the top flight, signing for the Latics in January 2010 for £2.5 million. Gracing the Premier League with a rare combination of pace and power, he proved a constant thorn in the sides of the division's best full backs.

Chelsea were long-term admirers and made Moses a Blue in 2012, in a deal worth £9 million. Europa League success followed in his first season, but a change in fortunes forced Moses to show the same strength and perseverance which had marked his early rise to stardom.

Jose Mourinho's dramatic return to Stamford Bridge in 2013 proved bad news for Moses, who soon found himself on loan at Premier League rivals Liverpool.

Image: PA
Image: PA

Regular first-team football proved difficult to come by at Anfield, with subsequent loan spells at Stoke City and West Ham United also failing to bring the best out of a promising but inconsistent player.

Thankfully the international stage served as the perfect platform for Moses to realise his true talent. Despite playing for England at every youth level the lure of representing Nigeria, the country of his birth, proved too strong.

For a country and continent where passion for the Premier League is huge that decision proved hugely popular. Almost instant success followed. Moses started five successive games for Nigeria in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations and scored twice, proving an integral part of the Super Eagles' first success in 19 years.

Moses had arrived on the international stage, but it would take time, patience and a change of position to take care of unfinished business at Stamford Bridge.

Moses
Moses

Facing the prospect of a fourth successive season on loan, Moses' Chelsea career was given a new lease of life thanks to a manager with very different plans for his Cup of Nations champion.

New Chelsea manager Antonio Conte favoured a 3-4-3 formation, which presented quite a conundrum for a player in Moses who had operated exclusively as a wide forward. Conte had a different position in mind for Moses, hoping to use his pace, ability to dribble huge distances and stamina to mould his new right wing-back.

The move proved a masterstroke, with Moses quickly showing he had the tactical discipline and desire to be a huge asset for the Blues at both ends of the pitch.

Moses started his first game in the new system against Hull City on October 10. He was awarded man of the match after a fantastic performance and kept his place for 22 successive games.

Chelsea were transformed from that moment on and so was Moses, a player reborn in a side destined for Premier League glory. His performances throughout that campaign in many ways epitomised a whirlwind journey from orphaned asylum seeker to Premier League champion.

Moses
Moses

Consistently overcoming setbacks and maximising the opportunities football has provided, Moses is a prime example that the beautiful game provides a platform to change lives beyond all recognition.

His story is far from over too, with trophies to fight for at Chelsea and a World Cup debut in Russia on the horizon this summer.

As the 27-year-old perfectly puts it when asked about his parents in an interview with The Guardian: "Wherever they are at the moment, they should be proud of me."

SPORTbible's campaign More Than A Game tells the stories about football and its power beyond the pitch. Find out more here.

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