Paul Onuachu has been named the winner of the 2021 Belgian Golden Shoe award, becoming the first-ever Nigerian and the fourth African to claim the prestigious honour.
The 27-year-old player claimed the award on 12 January 2022 after scoring an incredible 29 league goals over the entire 2020-21 season and adding another 12 in the first half of the current campaign for Genk who occupy the ninth spot in the table, 18 points behind leaders Union Saint-Gilloise.
The Belgian Golden Shoe award is given at the beginning of each year to the best footballer in the country’s First Division A for the past year. The win also saw him become the third Genk player in history to be named Belgium’s best and the first in 20 years. Paul Onuachu gathered 333 votes to beat the Club Brugge duo of Noa Lang (272 votes) and Charles De Ketelaere (271 votes) to second and third, respectively.
Three Africans, Ivory Coast’s Aruna Dindane in 2003, Morocco’s Mbark Boussoufa in 2006 and 2010, and Democratic Republic of Congo’s Dieumerci Mbokani in 2012, had previously won the award.
Last year, the Nigerian Super Eagles and Genk striker finished in third place in the race for the Golden Shoe, coming behind winner Israeli star Lior Refaelov and second-placed Raphael Holzhauser.
The former FC Midtjylland star is currently recovering from an injury that kept him out of the Nigerian squad to the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
“Honestly, I’m surprised. I would of course have been incredibly sorry if Paul had not won, but for some reason, I had the unexpected. Now I’m really happy because it’s well deserved for Onuachu too.
Paul is someone who deserves and appreciates every prize. Paul is a collective thinker: he wants to be important for the whole team with his goals, but this individual award is also a recognition that will make him very happy.
We haven’t seen statistics like that of Paul at Genk for a long time. Paul is not only important for his offensive performance but also invaluable defensively.
We now have a catching up race ahead of us after the winter break. I am convinced that this trophy will help with that. The Golden Boot will give Paul and the team a boost.”