Quite often in football, there is one moment that will either make or break a player’s career and for Eberechi Eze, this came in August 2016. Prior to this, Eze had been on the books at several academies, including Arsenal, Reading and Fulham. Most recently though, he was with Millwall- a physical, long-ball team. Here, his talents as a fast winger were not appreciated at all and consequently, he was released by the South London club.
It was at this point that Eze began to consider other career paths- taking a part-time job in the supermarket chain Tesco and preparing to start a college course. Given the immense talent he displayed on a weekly basis last season, this seems unthinkable now. In early August 2016, Eze took one last gamble with his football career, in the form of a trial with Queens Park Rangers of West London. This certainly paid off as he signed for QPR on the 3rd August, having impressed the technical director Chris Ramsay.
Eze at QPR
Since then, Eze has made 112 first-team appearances for QPR. His debut came against Blackburn Rovers in the FA cup, though disaster struck just 18 minutes into it, when he came off injured. Then, in August 2017, Eze was sent out on loan to Wycombe Wanderers of league Two, where he made 22 appearances- scoring five times. That season, Wycombe were promoted, and his performances played a big part. He had now earned a greater role for QPR in the 2018/19 season, when he became a mainstay of the starting XI; making an impressive 42 appearances, dazzling defences with his pace, power and skills. He scored four goals and made four assists in what could be called his breakthrough season.
However, it was in the 2019/20 season that Eze really came into his own. Under Mark Warburton, QPR favoured open, attacking football that completely heightened Eze’s role; carrying the ball from box-to-box and winning games with devastating finishes. In fact, so much did the style of play suit him, that he scored 14 times, with eight assists. This would be a brilliant total for a young striker, let alone a winger.
Interest from the Premier League
This kind of prolific form was bound to attract interest from the Premier League and, sure enough, in August 2020 Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace came knocking for his signature. On the 28th August 2020, Crystal Palace announced the signing of Eze in a deal worth up to £20 million. This is an incredible fee for a player that, had QPR not gambled on him, may well never have succeeded in professional football. He made his debut just a day after signing, in a pre-season friendly against Charlton Athletic. The future is certainly bright for the 22-year-old, who will be hoping that he can make an impact on the greatest football stage in the world this season. It will certainly be a big step up for Eze, but determination runs in his blood and he will not be giving up on this golden opportunity easily.
Though Eze is yet to be called up to the England first team by Gareth Southgate, he has a handful of youth appearances under his belt. His debut came on the 15th November 2019 as a late substitute against Albania, after being unused in the previous two matches. Thanks to his Nigerian ancestry, Eze is also eligible to play for the Super Eagles and, should he not get sufficient game time as an England player, he may turn to them to carve out an international career to match his blossoming club career.