The moment former Rivers United forward, Chijioke Akuneto, stepped into the impressive Cactus Restaurant, in Victoria Island, Lagos, with his imposing Eunisell Boot Award for the highest goal scorer in the Nigeria Professional Football League, for the 2021/22 season, he became the cynosure of all eyes.
Akuneto was at Cactus Restaurant with his wife, Temitope and son, Kingsley, after receiving the prestigious Eunisell Boot Award.
That’s the result of attaining celebrity status, which Eunisell believes is deserving of every player in the domestic NPFL.
Officials of the restaurant, clearly one of the best the luxurious Victoria Island has to offer, were quick to welcome Akuneto and his team to their restaurant.
Before taking his place, the forward was already answering questions about his prowess in front of goal.
No sooner had Akuneto settled down for the business of the day than a special in-house package was delivered to him by a staff.
“This is from our Manager to you. We are happy to have you in our restaurant” she said.
That he attracted attention at Cactus Restaurant for an award he won in the colours of Port-Harcourt based Rivers United, several kilometres away from Lagos, confirms his new status and recognition as a superstar.
Indeed, it’s an experience the forward, who scored his first goal for Nigeria’s Super Eagles against Ghana, has never had and one experience his family will cherish and continue to share for a long time to come.
For a league that is not on television, the prestigious Eunisell Boot Award provides priceless media blitz for winners.
Thankfully, Eunisell continues to boost attention on winners of the awards to enhance their personal brands.
To Eunisell Group Managing Director, Chika Ikenga, the initiative is a confirmation of Eunisell’s commitment to the development and increased interest in Nigerian football.
He said: “First, we set out to help improve the standard of professional football in Nigeria through incentives and awareness; second, to demonstrate to the youth that playing football in the Nigeria professional league is a viable career worth venturing into; and third, to increase spectator interest and support for local teams and players
“More than anything, football helps people in terms of keeping faith and provides opportunity for our young people to stay out of trouble. It allows them to fulfill their dreams.”
Akuneto becomes the seventh player to win the Eunisell Boot since inception in 2018.
“My friend, Silas Nwankwo won the award last season and passed the baton to me. I believe in fate. It will be my turn “Emi Lo Kan.” Eunisell has been doing a lot to boost interest in the league. I appreciate Eunisell’s sincere commitment to improving the wellbeing of players in the Nigerian League,” he said.
For his feat, Akuneto got the replica trophy and N3.8million as Eunisell placed a premium value of N200,000 on each goal.
2018 through 2022
Since 2018, Eunisell, West Africa’s largest and independent chemical as well as oil and gas engineering solutions provider, turned attention to the domestic NPFL to kick start the Eunisell Boot award a bid to make corporate Nigeria see it as a Nigerian project.
Eunisell conceived the award for the highest goal scorer to boost competitiveness amongst players and create celebrities.
To Eunisell, the award will also boost the profile of the league, increase brand awareness and attract potential sponsors to create a workable domestic league.
Eunisell’s involvement with Nigerian football kicked off with a sponsorship deal with Rivers United.
A deal that was initially sealed in 2015 with Sharks, one of the two clubs merged to form Rivers United, in 2016.
Junior Lokosa, then with Kano Pillars, won the initial award in 2018.
It was the turn of Mfon Udoh and SunusI Ibrahim, in 2019.
Israel Abia claimed it in 2020 and in 2021, the duo of Charles Atshimene and Silas Nwankwo grabbed the Eunisell Boot.