Girondions-Bordeaux of France attacker, Josh Maja is basking in the euphoria of his debut with the Super Eagles, in Tuesday’s 2-2 draw away to Ukraine and, while admitting he is looking forward to more of such opportunities with the Nigerian senior national team, he disclosed that the biggest motivation he has to keep aiming for the top of his career is that he wants to always make his family proud of him.
The 20-year-old lad, whose full name is Joshua Erowoli Maja, got off the Eagles’ bench in the 89th minute of Tuesday’s friendly at Dnipro-Arena and, though many observers believe he did not have enough time to show what he is made of, the former Sunderland of England hitman said he is already excited with what he has been able to achieve since moving to Bordeaux.
At Bordeaux, Maja, who was born December 27, 1998 in the London Borough of Lewisham to Nigerian parents, teamed up with Samuel Kalu, who played a key role in boosting his morale at the French Ligue 1 outfit, especially at a point injury wreaked havoc on his debut season.
Maja, who grew up in Pimlico, London cut his football teeth as a youngster with the youth teams of Crystal Palace and Fulham, from where he spent some time with Manchester City, but he was not offered a scholarship by The Citizens.
In March 2015, Sunderland reached an agreement with Fulham for him to sign a two-year deal on scholarship terms and, in May 2016, he signed his first professional contract with the club, in a three-year agreement.
On 21 September 2016, Maja made his professional debut in a 2–1 victory at Queens Park Rangers in the third round of the EFL Cup, replacing Joel Asoro as a substitute for the final 21 minutes, but he did not play again that season, only to appear on the bench during their English Premier League campaign, which ended in relegation.
Sunderland suffered a second consecutive relegation in the 2017–18 Championship season and, the following campaign in the EFL League One, Maja scored in all The Black Cats’ first four games in August, earning him a nomination for Player of the Month.
With his contract due to expire at the end of the season, he was offered a new deal but did not sign it, as he opted to cash in on his top-scoring form, which eventually saw him move to Bordeaux on January 26 this year.
Maja signed for Bordeaux on a four-year contract, then made his Ligue 1 debut on 17 February in a 2–1 home Derby de la Garonne win over FC Toulouse, starting and playing 67 minutes, but had to wait until April 20 to score his first goal, in a 2–1 loss at Nîmes Olympique.
Sadly, he suffered a first-half left-knee injury that ended his season after seven games, such that Maja’s early days in France ended up in a cloud, but he has been deemed good enough to get a call-up to the Eagles, for which he admits he was truly delighted.
He went on in place of Victor Osimhen in Tuesday’s game, for which he was invited only because fellow-France-based attacker, Henry Onyekuru, of AS Monaco, pulled out due to visa issues, but Maja does not feel demeaned, as he stressed that he wants to help Nigeria hit higher marks.
Maja retorted: ”I am delighted to get my first call-up for Nigeria, this is a big opportunity to show what I can do; give my quota to make my family, fans and coaches proud.
”I hope I can show what I can do and stay in the squad for as long as possible. I play as a centre forward, I like to create chances, score goals. I just work hard for the team.
“I play as a central forward and I like to create chances and score goals and generally work hard for the team. I’m looking forward to getting my chances in the team; so I can show what I can do and also stay here for a long time.”