In this report, Tana Aegina takes a look at how Glasgow Rangers defender Calvin Pacey has turned into Nigeria’s most reliable defender after a turbulent stint with the national team.
two thousand Bassi is the hottest player in Nigeria at the moment, perhaps only behind Napoli striker Victor Osimhen, who has caught the attention of some of Europe’s biggest clubs, after an impressive season with the Italian side.
The Glasgow Rangers defender has developed since this season to become an important player for Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side, not only in the role of traditional left-back, but also as a central defender.
A mainstay in The Gers, Bassi put in a remarkable performance on May 18 in Seville in the European Cup final against Eintracht Frankfurt, with teams in the lead, including English giants Chelsea, reportedly.
Frankfurt won the draw on penalties, after a 1-1 draw after 120 minutes of nerve-wracking football, with German goalkeeper Kevin Trapp officially named man of the match, but Bassi garnered many votes after his excellent display.
The 22-year-old was calm, dependable and nearly unbeatable, winning seven of his 11 duels that night, four of his five air matches, regaining possession nine times, and making three interceptions.
Twice in overtime he did two great recovery runs while everyone before him had a cramp.
His performances before and during the final earned him a place in the Team of the Season in Europe.
Of course, he caught the attention of critical British critics.
“Calvin Bassey was absolutely exceptional,” said Rangers legend Ally McCoist. BT Sport. “It was a giant this evening.”
“Bassi has progressed so far, really fast,” former Rangers striker Mark Hatley told BBC Scotland SportsSound. “He has proven himself as a centre-back, full-back and full-back. He has put himself in a position now where I imagine a lot of clubs are looking at him. He is still only 22 years old. He has been fantastic.
Former Manchester United defender Owen Hargreaves also praised the Nigerian, who was in Leicester City’s reserve two seasons ago.
Steven Gerrard signed the defender on a four-year deal in 2020 with Rangers paying Leicester training compensation.
“Calvin Basie, my word, what a performance,” Hargreaves told BT Sport.
“It was amazing, the energy and the effort. Everything about his game was fantastic.
“Anyone who watches that will think: ‘This is the kind of player I want on my team.'”
Rangers lost the league title to arch-rival Celtic, but after three days of brilliance in the European final, Bassi returned to play to help the Jers win the Scottish Cup with a 2-0 win over Hearts.
The young man is not finished yet. He continued his air end of the season with Rangers at the international level.
As part of the underpowered Eagles side losing 2-1 to Mexico at AT&T Stadium in Dallas on Saturday night, the defender once again demonstrated that he can perform at the highest level with his quick shots, speed and intelligence.
Mexico, undoubtedly, was at home in Dallas, where the majority of the 52,000 spectators were on El Tree.
They deservedly took the lead after 13 minutes when Cruz Azul striker Santiago Jimenez netted the net past goalkeeper Francis Uzuho.
Bassi, who plays the linebacker, had other ideas.
Less than 10 minutes into the second half, the Eagles equalized thanks to Passi’s delivery.
He drove from 15 yards into his half into a striker position, 30 yards off the net under the left wing, before blasting off with a superb six-yard header to Feyenoord striker Cyril Desires to gift him his first goal in two games for the Eagles.
Captain William Trost-Ekong’s own goal denied the three-time African champion a better result, but Bassi would have stunned the imagination of Portuguese Jose Peseiro, who took charge of the team for the first time.
The Scottish and Nigerian media celebrated the emerging defensive marshal.
But in truth, Passi’s first attempt at international football was not so rosy.
Just like any other footballer, Bassi was looking forward to making his international debut, but born in Aosta, Italy to Nigerian parents, the versatile defender was eligible to represent Italians, England and Nigeria.
But he chose Nigeria before the other two options and was first invited by Gernot Rohr, former Super Eagle coach, for the 2022 World Cup qualifying double group match against the Central African Republic.
However, the central defender could not have watched from the bench as the Eagles collapsed shockingly 1-0 to modest Central African Republic in Lagos, the first time the national team had lost a World Cup qualifier at home in 40 years.
It was definitely not the best way to start an international career in football.
In the reverse game in Yaounde, Cameroon, the Eagles took revenge on the homeowners, winning 2-0, but again, Passy was not seen in a role on the field by French-German Rohr.
He finally got his chance under interim coach Austin Iguafuen during the World Cup play-off match in Qatar against his fierce rivals, as he came on as a second-half substitute for Porto left-back Zido Sanusi in the 64th minute and assisted the Eagles. He kept a clean sheet in the first leg at Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi.
“It was an honor to represent such a great nation,” Basie was quoted by the Scottish Daily Express as saying.
But he admitted that the harsh weather conditions were difficult.
“Playing in Africa is more physical, it’s just adapting to the environment, the stadium and the weather, and it’s hard to breathe, so it’s just adapting to it.”
Bassi started the opposite game in Abuja but had problems recovering after the interference, and the weather was clearly taking its toll on the player as the Ghanaians booked their ticket to Qatar on the away goals rule after the 1-1 draw.
Striker Sadiq Omar was withdrawn in the 88th minute, as Eguafuen searched for the elusive winning goal.
Former Eagles striker Daniel Amokachi criticized Bassi for his lack of physical fitness after the match.
“Calvin Basie was exhausted after the first half and you could see he always put his hand on his waist every time.
“I don’t know why he stayed in the position for so long…and that’s what you get when you have 99 per cent of your players born abroad.”
The versatile defender has hinted at his career transformation, saying that his Rangers teammates and technical benches have helped him grow as a player.
“I thank my teammates. It’s not a one-man team, every one of them helps me improve every day to get me where I am now,” said Bassi.
“And the manager and the coaching staff trust me and push me. I cannot thank my teammates enough.”
Former Aston Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor, who is from a Nigerian father but turned down the Eagles for England, believes it is only a matter of time before Bassi resigns from Rangers to face greater challenges.
“I don’t think he will [extend his contract at Rangers]To be honest,” the 35-year-old told Football Insider.
“The problem with Rangers and Celtic is that they can’t pay the money that teams can pay in the Premier League.
“What can Rangers do for my dress? That’s the issue. He can probably get twice the money at Aston Villa. I’m sure he’d be reluctant to sign a new contract and see what’s available to him, to be honest.”
“There will be clubs for him, 1,000 per cent. He’s fast, calm on the ball, strong and good in the air. I’ll take him to Aston Villa tomorrow. A lot of clubs in the Premier League will look at him.”
“I am amazed that Leicester let him go, to be honest. That is very strange.”
Recently, Bassi commented on his future and insisted that he focus on Rangers.
“I just want to keep my head down and keep pushing hard,” Scotsman quoted Bassie as saying.
“I am focused here. I am here and ready to come here for pre-season and be fitter than I was last pre-season and ready to see what next season holds for me and the boys.”
Whether or not he stays at Ibrox as transactions in the transfer market intensify, Bassi has proven, with his recent outings at club and country level, that he can be the real deal, the next big thing in Nigerian football, as a solid defense captain. Eagles will be missed for a long time in the coming years.
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