After having spent one season with NAC Breda, two with FC Utrecht and one with Heracles, Cyriel Dessers returned to Belgium to join Racing Genk this summer. As the Dutch first division was cancelled early on because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the 25-year-old was crowned top scorer at the end of April, together with Feyenoord player Steven Berghuis. Both players scored 15 goals during the season.
The striker was being linked with different Belgian teams and even Serie A club Cagliari during the January transfer window, but he eventually left Heracles and joined Genk for 4,00 million Euro. Dessers signed a four-year contract with Genk in July of this year. Dessers was born in Tongeren, a city not too far from Genk and said his transfer to Genk “felt like coming home.” He said he was happy to be back home and play for his dream club after signing for Genk.
Born in Belgium to a Belgian father and Nigerian mother, in December 2019 he decided to represent Nigeria at international level. On 4 March, 2020, Dessers was called up by the Nigerian national football team head coach Gernot Rohr as part of the team players invited for the African Cup of Nations qualifying fixtures against the Sierra leone National football team. But the striker only made his debut for Nigeria in a friendly 1-1 tie with Tunisia on 13th October 2020.
Dessers remained an unused substitute against Algeria but made his debut with Nigeria after replacing captain Ahmed Musa with 18 minutes left to play at the Jacques Lemans Arena. Following the game against the Carthage Eagles, Dessers expressed his delight representing the three-time African champions, sharing a picture on Twitter with the subtext: “Proud and honored to represent a big football nation like Nigeria. Proud to be a Super Eagle.”
Cyriel Dessers can be considered a late bloomer and it didn’t look like he would one day be a professional football player as he was still playing in the 4th division when he was 16 years old. Only when he went to Leuven to study law, he joined first division team Oud-Heverlee Leuven and made his debut in the starting eleven in 2014.
During the 2013–14 season, 19-year-old Dessers stood out with the reserve team and youth competitions for Oud-Heverlee Leuven, scoring over 20 goals. First division club Lokeren, now bankrupted, noticed the striker and offered him a three-year contract. The young striker made 32 appearances with Lokeren scoring 4 goals, but never was first-choice with manager Peter Maes and often started on the bench.
The search for more playing opportunities brought Dessers to the Dutch second division. At NAC, the young Belgian was more successful. With 22 goals, he was crowned top scorer that season and guided Breda to the Eredivisie. Once again, his performance didn’t go unnoticed and he was acquired by Dutch sub-topper Utrecht. In two seasons, Dessers would go on and score 12 goals. In 2019, he was acquired by Heracles, where he would be crowned top scorer for the second time in his career, now on the highest level.
Dessers will be expected to form a deadly attack along with new Napoli signing Victor Osimhen and Villarreal winger Samuel Chukwueze for the Super Eagles. Nigeria is currently in first place in the group phase of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations, in front of Benin, Lesotho and Sierra Leona and are on their way to qualify for the 33rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.