Raphael Chukwu playing for Sundowns during the 1998/99 Castle Premiership Season© Gavin Barker - BackpagePixAuthor: John AliuThose who witnessed the exploits of Raphael Chukwu in the colours of Mamelodi Sundowns would agree that the Nigerian was unstoppable thanks to his physical strength, inherent audacity, blistering pace, and a keen eye for scoring great goals.
A constant threat in the final third, Chukwu was a man-mountain who used his guile and agility to glide past defenders with relative ease. Simply put, Chukwu was a big man for the big occasions. Nicknamed ‘Chukwu Train’, the right-footed marksman had three spells with The Brazilians and remains an iconic figure associated with the Yellow Nation till today.
“I struck a very good connection with the Mamelodi Sundowns supporters during my playing days. They even handed me that nickname – Chukwu Train. They welcomed me with open arms and I am glad I constantly put smiles on their faces,” said the Nigerian.
Chukwu is often remembered for his massive physique, raw strength, and goal-poaching prowess which saw him score 63 goals in 124 starts in the Premier Soccer League (PSL), winning three titles. The Nigerian striker was named PSL Footballer of the Year and Players' Player of the Season in 1998 as a reward for his outstanding performances.

When asked about his fondest memories with the Club, the Chukwu-Train answered “I had several great moments with Sundowns. However, the season which stood out for me the most was the 1997/98 campaign. We played so well that season and we won the League and Cup double (Nedbank Cup). Aside from the collective titles, I also had a couple of reasons to celebrate thanks to my accolades achieved that season,” Chukwu stated.
Raphael Chukwu of Sundowns during the 2002/03 Castle Premiership football match© Gavin Barker - BackpagePixChukwu, alongside the legendary striker Daniel ‘Mambush’ Mudau (the club’s all-time goal scorer) formed one of the deadliest combinations for Bafana Ba Style between 1997 and the early 2000s.

“Raphael was a well-rounded striker who was never afraid of any opponent. He was the perfect definition of a striker who knew his craft. I enjoyed playing alongside him because of his great work ethic,” according to Mambush.
Aside from playing in South Africa, Chukwu also plied his trade in his native homeland Nigeria, as well as playing in clubs located in Italy and Turkey. One notable trait Chukwu possessed throughout his career was the burning desire to always be on the winning side.

“During my playing days, I always disliked the idea of losing games. That was not part of my DNA because I always wanted to succeed on the pitch. One current player I share that trait with is Andile Jali. Like me, you can always see how unhappy Jali is whenever he loses a game.”
Chukwu hails from the South-Eastern part of Nigeria, a region that is well known for its distinct cultures and traditions, cuisines, customary attires, and much more. These diversities of African cultures are what excites Chukwu the most.

“I have had the privilege to travel across some nations on the African continent, and I am always intrigued with the diversity of languages, cultures, costumes, meals, and much more. We are very proud of our cultures and that is what makes us Africans. As an Igbo man, I love our vibrant community, respect for elders, hospitality and delicacies.”
Joas Magolego, Raphael Chukwu, Daniel Mudau and Isaac Shai© Gavin Barker - BackpagePixChukwu now works in the corporate world with interests in the telecommunications industry. He has also branched into the setting up of sports bars and restaurants for recreational activities.
Raphael Chukwu’s Top Five Faves
1. Favourite African football legend: Augustine Jay-Jay Okocha.
2. Favourite sport aside from Football: Formula One.
3. Favourite five-a-side team based on footballers he played with: John Tlale, Taribo West, Sunday Oliseh, Roger Feutmba, and Austine Jay-Jay Okocha.
4. Favourite piece of advice to youngsters: Work hard, believe in yourself, and stay focused.
5. Favourite South African dish: pap, wors and chakalaka. Oh and I miss the smell of a Braai.
Chukwu will always be fondly remembered as a super-talented Nigerian goal-machine who possessed incredible composure to keep his cool in front of goal. His speed and strength made him a great target-man who cemented his legacy at Mamelodi Sundowns.

We extend our salutations to our legendary Striker in his mother tongue (Igbo Language).
Chukwu, Odogwu Nwoke, Na You Biko! (which translates to: Chukwu, you will always remain a hero. Our hat goes off to you).