They say what makes a human is one’s ability to rise from the tide, to fail, and to find the courage to try again.

Bayelsa United’s forward, John Bassey, had only scored one goal in the Nigeria Premier Football League, before matchday 34, but went on to find his form in the most crucial moment, helping the Prosperity Boys retain their NPFL status.

While Six goals and two assists may not look like much for a striker, the story behind it might help change the perspective. For John Bassey, playing for Bayelsa United in the 2023/24 season was his first NPFL experience and was not a smooth sailing one.


Bassey got into the round leather game of football, as a little kid, like most footballers. However, his journey to playing the game professionally, he revealed, was tumultuous. Having little or no support, he had to hustle and still make time to train.

He had stints with Aspire FC, a club in the Second division of Nigerian Football, and Green Barret a football club in Zaria, waiting for the day a bigger opportunity would present itself.

“One faithful day while playing for Green Barret, I was given the option of a one-year contract. Not long after, I received a call from my coach and he asked me if I wanted to play Premier League (Nigeria) or Pro League I told him I wanted to play in the Premier League, the striker revealed.”

Bassey left Zaria to play football at a festival in Bayelsa state, and he became the highest goalscorer in the competition. Following his impressive performance, the state team, Bayelsa United indicated interest in getting his signature but did not follow through.

“I was waiting for their call but they did not call, so I continued my personal training and prayed to God, he said.”

Undeterred, The 26-year-old who had already left the state, returned to participate in the Governor’s Cup and impressed yet again, which led to Bayelsa United signing him – enabling him to ply his trade professionally in the NPFL for the first time.

John Bassey in Aspire FC Colours


Bassey was signed officially as a Bayelsa United player for the 2023/24 season. Going into his first game in the club’s colours against Akwa United in Bayelsa United’s 5-3 victory, he registered an assist. But the second game marked the beginning of what was an extremely challenging experience.

In the second game against Doma United on Saturday, October 7, 2023, Bassey was unable to register a goal, despite playing good football, and it stayed that way in subsequent games until the game against Sunshine Stars on Sunday, November 19, 2023, where he netted once. At that point, it looked like the sun had smiled at him, but it turned out to be a one-off.

His inability to score goals raised eyebrows within the team and led to talks about dropping him after the first half of the season, Conversations that got him worried. Amid all the misfortunes, Bassey had the support and encouragement from his family and teammates.

“I went back home and spoke to my mum and brothers and they encouraged me, I went to my pastor and he prayed for me. When I got back for the second half of the season, I was not getting any playing time, I spoke to my teammates about it and they encouraged me and said the goals will come when I eventually get back on the pitch. So I just prayed and started training and pushing harder and the door of goals opened for me.”


“Before the game against Plateau I was determined to score, I made up my mind and I put everything into the game and got the goal.”

In June, when Bassey began getting playing time, he was determined to make it count and he went on to score five extremely important goals that ensured Bayelsa United avoided the drop. He scored a goal against Plateau, which was the third goal that enabled the team to get all three points despite the opposition’s attempts to stage a comeback. He went on to score both goals in the 2-2 draw against sporting Lagos which saw Bayelsa United snatch an important point from trailing position, and then again, two in the win against Shooting Stars.

Monster Mentality

Bassey disclosed that before the all-important game against Bendel Insurance, he lost his uncle and felt very discouraged, but knowing the significance of the game, he found the strength to focus on the task ahead.

” As a team, we were determined to get the victory away from home and not settle for a draw.”

Future (Ambition)

The future is uncertain but Bassey hopes to take bigger steps in his football career and is actively working towards it.

” Bayelsa United is a very good team that I love so much, it is where I started my career but it is my career so I need to go even further. My ambition is to go higher, and climb more steps, Bayelsa United is a stepping stone. I want to go to even bigger teams and look for more offers from outside the country or within Africa, anywhere God says I will go.”

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