How Victor Boniface and Nathan Tella Helped Bayer Leverkusen Lift the Historic Bundesliga

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In football or soccer, if you’re American, when you hear “The Invincibles”, your mind brings the image of the 2003-04 Arsenal team with Patrick Vieira holding up the unique gold Premier League trophy after the team had gone 38 matches unbeaten for the whole season. Before Arsenal held the record, it was previously held by Preston North End Football Club in 1989 and AC Milan’s team of 1992 who won the Serie A without losing a game. What, however, made Arsenal exceptional was the difference in the games. Preston went unbeaten with 27 games, while Arsenal’s was 38, competing with the league’s giants like Manchester United, Nottingham Forest, and Chelsea. A unique Premier League silverware was designed to celebrate the milestone and to date, since 2004, 20 years in history, no modern football club has been able to replicate that; not the exceptional team of Manchester City, or the giant of the Champions League, Real Madrid.

Until Xabi Alonso‘s Bayer Leverkusen.

In October 2022, Bayer Leverkusen appointed Xabi Alonso as the head coach when the club was in the 17th position in the Bundesliga, the German league dominated for several years by Bayern Munich. Before Xabi Alonso’s appointment, Leverkusen have never won the Bundesliga. They have finished as runner-up in the Bundesliga five times without winning the league. When Xabi Alonso arrived, he recruited more talents including Nigerian Victor Boniface and Nathan Tella, and since the start of the new season, Bayer Leverkusen have gone 44 games unbeaten with just a few matches left to play, drawing just 4 of them yet.

The win against Werder crowned them their first Bundesliga in the club’s history and a historical moment for Nigeria when Victor Boniface and Nathan Tella join fellow Nigerian talents who have won the Bundesliga. The German league has been graced with Nigerian talents like Victor Osimhen, Taiwo Awoniyi, JayJay Okocha, Sunday Oliseh, Obafemi Martins, Victor Agali and Pascal Ojigwe.

Since joining the club, Nathan Tella and Victor Boniface have been very instrumental in the club’s title charge with Nathan charging the midfield and Victor scoring important goals for the club. In his 18 appearances this season, Victor has contributed 11 goals and 7 assists despite suffering from a four-month injury which ruled him out of the African Cup of Nations and some club football until his return on April 11, where he netted a late-minute goal against the English side, West Ham United. For five consecutive times, Victor Boniface has won the Rookie of the Month award in the Bundesliga.

Similarly, before joining Bayer Leverkusen, Nathan Tella started his professional career in the Premier League with Southampton in 2019. He was at the club until 2022 when he was loaned to the then-championship side, Burnley, scoring only one goal for Southampton. At Burnley, he contributed to the promotion of the side to the Premier League, scoring many goals including two career hattricks. Burnley couldn’t sign him and in 2023, Bayer Leverkusen announced his signing on a five-year deal and he made his debut for the club on October 5. So far, in the current season, he has scored 5 goals and contributed 2 assists in his 20 appearances.

Meanwhile, just as English football has the treble – the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League (or any main continental trophy) – the same exists in German football as the Bundesliga, DFB Cup and a European trophy. Only eight teams, including Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Ajax, Inter, Manchester United, Celtic and PSV, have ever achieved this coveted feat. So, Bayer Leverkusen are also primed to be on a treble charge this season, thanks to their impressive runs in the Europa League and DFB Cup. Should Bayer Leverkusen somewhat manage to lift the treble, Nathan Tella and Victor Boniface will be the first Nigerians to achieve this major honour in football history.

Bayer Leverkusen carry a lot of history on their shoulders, and this season could be monumental not only for them but also for football fans in Nigeria. Achieving the Bundesliga is a special milestone for Nigerians on the international football stage, but can they strengthen that with a treble?  It seems like an achievable dream with contributions from the brilliance of Nathan Tella and Victor Boniface. Everyone has eyes on the team and they eagerly wait, hoping to be part of a potentially legendary season for Victor and Nathan. We watch on and see. But first, they celebrate the Bundesliga.

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