When Nigeria won the African Nations Cup at the start of the year we shouldn’t have been surprised … but we were.
Because the Super Eagles have made a habit of not living up to their potential in recent times - despite the abundance of talent coursing through the squad.
But this time round they had the right blend of experience, youthful exuberance and pride to take them all the way.
Oh … and of course, an absolute on-field hero.
Sunday Mba came out of the competition into the spotlight, after a campaign where he was the undisputed hero.
His performances may have been sketchy, but in the end … he put the ball in the net when it mattered.
His goal against the Ivory Coast saw them through to the final, his goal against Burkina Faso won them the competition.
The attacking midfielder was immediately in high demand, despite what was a tricky contract situation in his homeland between Warri Wolves and Enugu Rangers.
Bayer Leverkusen were mentioned as a possibility as well as a number of Bundesliga outfits. In the Premier League it was Arsenal who were said to be keeping tabs on him, along with his international team-mate Godfrey Oboabona.
But in the end, he chose a rather different destination to continue his career … Ligue 2 side CA Bastia.
Not to be confused with their more illustrious cousins SC Bastia the club were promoted to Ligue 2 for the first time in their history last season.
The club, who have predominantly been an amateur side up until now, are assistant managed by former Leicester City midfielder Lilian Nalis - and they made the move for Mba at the right time - snapping up the player in the summer.
But things have not been that straightforward.
At the end of August he signed for the club, in a one-year deal from Warri Wolves.
And that was it, signed, sealed … delivered.
But the deal has not gone through.
Despite being pictured at the club holding up a shirt with his name on, the proposed move collapsed. The Wolves say they pulled the plug on the deal, with the chairman Amaju Pinnick stating:
"I sincerely felt sorry for the player, but when we couldn't agree on their proposal we had to pull the plug.’’
But it then emerged that the player, and his agents, pulled out of the deal - suggesting that some of the clauses in the contract were not in the best interests of his career.
In the end, Mba is now back playing in Nigeria, still available if Arsenal, or anybody else, wanted to make a move for his talents.
Although, with the World Cup approaching, he is now likely to stay in Nigeria. But if he impresses in Brazil, then the offers will come streaming in.
image: © attawayjl