Originally featured on TalkingTikiTaka:
What does one of the hottest prospects in European Football have to do with choosing the name of your new-born baby?
Well, parents of new-born babies can spend several deciding and deliberating of their child – and rightly so! After carrying a child for nine months, enduring the many ups and downs that come with the various stages of pregnancy leading up to the birth, of course it’s only necessary to spend a sufficient amount of time in selecting your child’s first name. I mean come on, a name is with somebody for life and it’s obviously important to choose the right one, right? And as far as decisions go, there’s probably very few in life of equal importance. It’s not like just choosing which brand of washing up liquid you buy in the supermarket or which flavour of crisps you purchase in a shop, although if you’ve ever seen me trying to complete a Boots meal deal, you really would think it’s just as important. But regardless, it’s widely believed that a first name can say a lot about a person and some would argue it can have some impact on your progress and development later on in life. But as for your surname however, that’s something completley different; something you are powerless to, something you just can’t easily influence, change or alter and something that more often than not, you are stuck with for life.
Yet as I have often found in football, just as first names so often do in day to day life, certain players’ surnames can sometimes speak volumes about them, especially when it comes to their footballing ability. The growing consensus over time has always been that George Best, with the power of hindsight, was perhaps in fact ‘the best’. Whether you could say the same about former Newcastle United forward Leon Best however, is completely your call! But however Gael ‘Clichy’ it may be, in some cases there is a plausible argument to suggest certain players blessed with a descriptive surname, sometimes (admittedly co-incidentally) correlates with their quality on the pitch. Thierry ‘Henry’ reigned supreme like the King he is remembered for among Arsenal fans. With an air of undisputed formality both on and off the pitch, he royally struck the ball into the back of the net time after time throughout his career. Meanwhile Roy was always Keane for a tackle (and nowadays to voice his opinion), Robbie remains Keaneto get on the score-sheet in Major League Soccer whilst both Manchester United pairing Michael and Will are just Keane for an elusive first-team opportunity at such a young age. And despite a bit of an off season, Vincent is often described as great ‘Kompany’ by partnering centre-backs for both club and country, whilst should their team-mates fail to perform, the individual and often stand-out performances of both David and Thiago prove that every cloud does have a ‘Silva’ lining. And of course, the less said about Danny ‘Shittu’, Eric ‘Dier’ and Rod ‘Fanni’ – the better!
All of the above, as it so often does with the majority of my written articles, does indeed go off on quite a tangent but I hope you see what I tried to do there, merely acting as a sub-plot to this scout report, an area of football which often falls fowl of undeserved criticism for being highly detailed and informative but sometimes a bit too overly analytic and simply just quite dull. However, if you somehow enjoyed such a long-winded introduction and you Shane ‘Long’for a return to a discussion on second names and their reference to footballing ability (okay I do now give up), then if the surname of in my opinion, one of the best young forwards’ in La Liga is anything to go by, then it will be interesting to see what the future holds for Granada’s highly rated hot prospect.
Isaac Ajayi Success is a 19 year old striker currently applying his trade for Andalucian outfit Granada in the Spanish La Liga. Isaac Success initially came to prominence during the 2013 Under 17 World Cup, a campaign in which the Success not only scored two goals but ultimately played a part in Nigeria’s outright success as winners of the coveted competition. In 122 minutes of game-time, the young forward certainly made the most of the exposure in the tournament, with scouts from all over the world using the competition as an opportunity to find their next big player, often shopping around for clubs throughout Europe. It wasn’t long after until the Nigerian striker was promoted by club side Granada from their youth ranks to a place on the substitute bench against both FC Barcelona back in April 2014. Sadly his quick rise to fame wasn’t to be as Success remained on the bench throughout the tie with Barcelona and the following game with Sevilla. But away from the first team, Success remained focused and continued to shine behind the scenes, taking confidence from his inclusion with the senior squad and scoring a brace against Écija in his first game back with Granada’s second squad after warming the bench in Sevilla.
Of course, not just his goals but his determination to keep improving and developing within the youth ranks over the summer break did not go unnoticed by a team that often find themselves towards the bottom of the table in La Liga and following the departure of Algerian star player Yacine Brahimi to Portuguese giants FC Porto, the stage was set for Isaac to break into the first-team for good. Things initially started in the same vain they had left off with the Nigerian forward resigned to the bench in Granada’s 2-1 victory over Deportivo La Coruña at the start of the 2014/15 La Liga season. But after a positional change that saw former Blackburn Rovers striker Ruben Rochina move onto the wing, Isaac Success was the preferred option in attack to partner the ever-present Youssef El-Arabi in their match against and took the place of fellow Granada II team-mate Darwin Machis, who had been preferred to Success in the victory over Deportivo. The game ended 1-1 and although the young Nigerian forward failed to score, he did however play a full 90 minutes and clearly his performance had won him another crack at first-team football.
Manager Joaquín Caparrós, known for his willingness to give talented youngsters the room and playing time necessary for them to blossom, then opted to start the youngster in Granada’s subsequent matches against Villarreal and Athletic Club Bilbao – not bad for somebody who has just broke into the first team. Used as a substitute in their consequent tie with Levante, Success was once thrust into the limelight in perhaps the biggest game of his career against FC Barcelona at the Nou Camp. The clear gulf between the two sides can evidently be seen in the 6-0 thrashing of Granada, but on a personal level, not only would it have been such an achievement to for Isaac Success to start in such a game, but an incredible confidence boost too.
Success continued to be flirted in and out of the Granada senior team in a sequence of squad rotation with fellow forward Jhon Cordoba and consequently, Success despite appearing against teams from opposite ends of the La Liga spectrum against Eibar and Real Madrid, found himself also competing against the likes of Marbella and La Roda for the Granada second team. Success then made history after continued rotation between both the senior and youth squads at Granada as he continued with his professional footballing education by scoring his first La Liga goal on Matchday 14 in a home game against Valencia. His goal did not prove a personal for boss Caparros after showing his faith in the youngster, but his 89th minute strike made history as the youngest player to have scored in the top tier of Spanish football in the 2014/15 season, achieving the feat at the age of 19 years, 11 months and one day.
The departure of Caparrós at the start of 2015 may perhaps explains why the Nigerian forward has suffered a little for game-time in the latter stages of the 2014/15 with the focus firmly fixed on Granada avoiding the drop back into the second tier of Spanish football. Therefore somewhat inevitably, Granada under new manager Abel Resino has placed an emphasis on experienced players rather than the likes of Machis and Success who are the much younger alternatives with great potential, as a method of avoiding relegation. So for Isaac Success, it’s been back to basics with very little fuss or commotion caused from the youngster, perhaps credit to not just to his determination to succeed but also to his personal respect he has for the club that gave him his first chance in professional football. His most recent goal came in Granada II’s latest 2-0 win against Cacereño and further exemplifies the individual goal-scoring prowess he has in-front of goal. Admittedly at such a young age, there are some question marks surrounding his consistency and whether he scores as often as he should be doing, but considering all the goals, accolades and achievements he has to his name before the age of 20 years old, I would personally say that on a whole the 2014/15 season has already been a big enough success for the young striker.
So all things considered, should Granada fail to beat the drop and find themselves relegated from the top tier of Spanish football this season, you may see a change in approach from the management at the club in order to rebuild the squad for the future. For me personally as a fan of Spanish football and not particularly just Granada, relegation to La Liga Adelante could perhaps could be a blessing in disguise for the club and would not allow the likes of Isaac Success to naturally reach his potential in the first team on a weekly basis, but would also give the player time to mature which would in the long-term surely be of great benefit to a side in desperate need of something new if they wish to sustain a place in the first division in the future.
Isaac Success Statistics for the 2014/15 season: (as of 17/04/2015)
Granada (Senior Side):
Played: 652 minutes
Appearances: 16 (Games Started: 6, Substitute In: 10)
Granada (Reserve Setup):
Played: 1106 minutes
Appearances: 15 (Games Started: 12, Substitute In: 3)