Premier League Career: Wigan Athletic (2010-2012), Chelsea (2012-2013, 2016-PRESENT), Liverpool FC (2013-2014), Stoke City (2014-2015), West Ham United (2015-2016)
Victor Moses enjoyed a resurrection in his Premier League career when Antonio Conte used him as a wing-back during his first season as Chelsea manager in 2016-2017. Having been discarded completely by Jose Mourinho, Moses did a great job in his new position having previously made his mark as a flying winger. The rewards were greatly demonstrated as Victor ended the season with a Premier League title winners’ medal.
Moses was born in Lagos and suffered tragedy in his childhood when both of his parents were killed in religious riots in Kaduna. Less than a week later, his remaining relatives paid for him to travel to the UK to claim asylum. Placed with a foster family in south London, he took up education in the city and played plenty of football in his spare time.
Spotted by Crystal Palace, he was offered a place in their academy and he made his first-team debut for the Eagles aged just 16 in November 2007 vs. Cardiff City in the Championship. He played 16 times in the 2007-2008 season and tasted the play-offs too although it ended in disappointment as Palace lost in the semi-final stage over two legs to Bristol City. He signed a new contract that summer and continued to shine even if the club struggled, both on and off the pitch.
As the south Londoners slipped into administration in January 2010, he moved to Wigan Athletic for £2.5 million on the final day of the winter transfer window. He made his debut seven days later as a substitute in a 1-1 draw with Sunderland and by the end of the season, was a Premier League goalscorer when he scored in a 2-2 home draw with already-relegated Hull City in May.
It was clear that there was plenty of promise in Moses’ game but his rawness meant his final ball or finishing ability sometimes let him down at the crucial moment. His first full Premier League campaign was a struggle with competition for places meaning he was never a guaranteed starter. Injuries also hampered his progress but when Charles N’Zogbia departed for Aston Villa in the summer of 2011, Moses began to blossom. He scored six times in 38 matches, helping Wigan towards another unlikely escape from relegation.
By now, there was a tug-of-war for his services on both a club and international scale. Having represented England’s junior levels, Moses elected to stick to his birth roots and accepted the opportunity to play for Nigeria at senior international level. He was part of the successful Super Eagles squad that won the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, scoring twice in the group stages against Ethiopia.
Chelsea liked what they saw too and pursued Moses all throughout the summer of 2012, making four unsuccessful bids. After an impressive outing against the reigning Champions of Europe on the opening day of the 2012-2013 season, Chelsea came in again with a fifth bid and this time, Wigan accepted, moving to the Blues in the closing days of the summer transfer window.
Moses’ early involvement for Chelsea came in League Cup and European games but his late equaliser to rescue a 1-1 draw at Swansea City in November 2012 saw him gain further opportunities in the Premier League, especially when Rafa Benitez became interim manager later that month. The goal at The Liberty Stadium was his only Premier League strike of the season but he made 23 appearances and saved his goalscoring form for the UEFA Europa League. Moses scored in 50% of his European appearances, including crucial goals in both legs of the semi-final success against FC Basel 1893. He was bitterly unfortunate to miss out on a place in the squad for the victory in the final over Benfica.
Mourinho’s second coming as manager though spelt the end of Moses’ time as a first-team player at Stamford Bridge as he went on-loan for the next three Premier League campaigns. First stop was Liverpool FC in 2013-2014 and although he scored on debut against Swansea, the form of Raheem Sterling restricted Moses to a handful of appearances. He only made nine Premier League starts for the Reds.
Next port of call was Stoke City for 2014-2015 and again, there was a positive start. A Man of the Match performance in the home win over Newcastle United and a goal in a draw with West Ham United indicated he could flourish at Stoke. Unfortunately, he sustained a thigh injury in a shock home loss to Burnley in November 2014, keeping him on the sidelines for two months. He never regained his early-season form and even rejected the opportunity to go back to Chelsea when Mourinho tried to recall him after selling Andre Schurrle to VfL Wolfsburg and loaning out Mohamed Salah in the January transfer window.
In September 2015, he made another loan switch, this time to West Ham United who were about to embark on their final season at Upton Park. This time, the loan had a purchase option at the end of it and once again, Moses started well. He was the first player in the 2015-2016 season to score past Joe Hart as West Ham picked up an impressive 2-1 victory at early season pacesetters Manchester City. Moses made 21 appearances for the Hammers but again had injury issues, with a hamstring injury meaning he missed two months of the campaign and West Ham elected not to take up the option on making the loan move into a permanent switch.
By now, Mourinho had gone and after impressing Antonio Conte in pre-season, it was decided Moses would remain around the Chelsea squad for the 2016-2017 season. When Conte switched formation to a 3-4-3 following back-to-back league defeats to Liverpool FC and Arsenal, Moses was one of the main beneficiaries. He started playing a regular role as a wing-back and seemed to have discovered a new-found confidence with the knowledge he would be starting on a regular basis for his parent club. He scored goals in wins over reigning champions Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur; the goal against the latter ending their unbeaten start to the season. He ended the campaign with 34 league appearances, three goals and a title winners’ medal. Moses had been one of the revelations of the season. It did end on a sour note though, becoming the fifth player to be dismissed in an FA Cup final after being caught diving in an attempt to win a penalty against Arsenal.
Moses remained a regular fixture in 2017-2018 and matched his goal tally from the previous season and he won the FA Cup but Conte’s departure has led to him falling again to a peripheral role under new manager Maurizio Sarri in the early weeks of this season. This summer, he also represented Nigeria at the 2018 World Cup finals and scored an equaliser in the group stage game against Argentina. Marcos Rojo’s late winner though knocked Nigeria out of the tournament and in August 2018, he elected to retire from international football after winning 37 caps for the Africans, scoring 12 goals.
Victor Moses has proved that even though barriers can sometimes look permanently shut, they can be brought down through hard work, persistence and desire to prove people wrong. His efforts in achieving this mean he has a Premier League title winners’ medal safely stored in his honours roll.