Largely-unknown Belgium-based Nigeria forward, Gift Orban, is the newest scoring sensation in Europe at the moment. This however is not taking anything away from the exploits of Napoli’s Victor Osimhen.
Just on Wednesday night, Orban scored the fastest-ever hat-trick in the UEFA Europa Conference League as his club, KAA Gent, thrashed Istanbul Basaksehir 4-1.
Orban was on target in the 31st, 32nd and 34 minutes respectively.
The 20-year-old also scored Gent’s only goal in the first leg which ended in a 1-1 draw.
Here are eight things to know about the forward:
1. Orban grew up in Togo as well as Nigeria, and speaks French.
2. In November 2021, he was scouted by Stabæk’s Torgeir Bjarmann and Thomas Finstad in Nigeria during a showcase tournament arranged by agent Atta Aneke. He trained with Stabæk during the winter of 2022 before returning after his visa expired.
3. He scored his first goals in cup matches against semi-professional teams Notodden and Gjøvik-Lyn (twice). After this, he became a starting player for Stabæk. His goal against SK Brann was compared to Alanzinho’s time at Stabæk.
4. The Nigeria forward became the top scorer in the 2022 Norwegian First Division with 16 goals, alongside Bård Finne.
5. On January 31, 2023, Orban joined Belgian Pro League side Gent on a permanent deal
6. On February 11, Orban scored two goals on his Pro League debut in a 3–3 draw with Westerlo.
7. Orban on March 12 scored four goals in a 6–2 away win over Zulte Waregem, which made him the first player of Gent to do so in the 21st century.
8. On Wednesday night, he scored the fastest hat-trick in the 4–1 away win over İstanbul Başakşehir in the UEFA Europa Conference League round 16. The hat-trick was scored within three minutes and 25 seconds, setting a new record for the fastest hat-rick in UEFA club competitions. His feat broke the record of six minutes and 12 seconds by Mohamed Salah in the Champions League during Rangers vs Liverpool in 2022.
The forward disclosed on Sunday that he wished to play in the Premier League some day.
“My level has to be even higher if I ever want to play in the Premier League. There is still a lot of work to be done.”
Meanwhile, head coach of Belgium U-19 team, Wesley Sonck, advised Orban to spend more time in the Jupiler Pro League before thinking of a move abroad.
Sonck, an ex-Genk star, praised Orban for his ambition to play in the English topflight league, but added that he needed more time to play regularly before switching to a higher league.
“I think it’s great that he is so ambitious. He is also fast, and he adapts well. I also have to admit that he easily scores a goal, that he is often in the right place,” he said, as quoted by Voetbalnieuws.
“But the Premier League or Bundesliga, that is still a few steps higher. Even with teams like Mönchengladbach or Frankfurt, you have guys like Thuram and Kolo-Muani in the front. That is still on a different level,” said the Belgian Professional Footballer of the Year for 2001/02.
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