Nigerian footballer Victor Anichebe has been in immense form this season, scoring vital goals that have helped revitalize Sunderland’s season after coach David Moyes switched to a 4-4-2 formation.
Injuries and poor form made his former club West Brom desert him, but this season he’s been in good form and some of his fans have pointed his new relationship with Dj Cuppy, daughter to billionaire businessman Femi Otedola, as the reason for his success on the field. But, no! That’s not the reason, as Anichebe has changed his workout routine with his personal trainer Nicky Holender.
Read the Dailymail Uk report on Anichebe below:
It is mid-afternoon on a scorched soccer field in Westwood, Los Angeles. The Hollywood Hills and its famous sign are visible through the summer haze. Next door is the Pierce Brothers Memorial Park, resting place of Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin.
But this is not glamorous. An out-of-contract Premier League footballer is tied to a goal-post. He is fighting the urge to vomit. For 15 minutes he has been resisting the elasticated rope around his waist and sprinting to the halfway-line, jogging back before repeating the drill.
And this is merely the warm-up. Only later does the football emerge. Then, with his legs turning to jelly, the striker is fed ball after ball, controlling before beating his only opponent and firing into the empty goal.
Anichebe has been doing this for six weeks. For company, he has only Nicky Holender, the London-born personal trainer to Hollywood’s A-listers and the man responsible for Gerard Butler’s muscle-bound torso in the movie 300.
At 7am Pacific Time last Saturday, the 39-year-old father of three watched on TV from his home in Westwood as, 5,000 miles away on Wearside, Anichebe scored two late goals in Sunderland’s 3-0 win over Hull. Afterwards, the man of the match made special mention of Holender.
‘Those goals, that was exactly what we’d worked on all summer,’ Holender, a former footballer, model, singer and actor, tells Dailymail UK’s Sportsmail.’I had a plan where I’d put him through hell for 20 minutes. I annihilated him. Then we’d start working on finishing, one-on-ones, explosive bursts so that his body would get used to doing that when tired. Doing it 20 times over.
Victor gets tired and he’s carrying that weight, his body gets into a situation where it can’t cope — that’s when you break down.
‘We had to get his muscles used to coping with that immense power for 90 minutes, not 75. Look at his goals against Hull. Both one-on-one with a defender in the box, one touch to get away from him and bang — goal. That’s what you’ll see with Victor this year, at the end of games he will be stronger than everyone else on the pitch. I train NFL players and Victor has the perfect body-type for a running-back. Of all the players I work with, his raw physical and technical ability makes him unplayable if he’s in the right condition.’
Anichebe has been working with Holender for four years. This summer, however, Holender sensed a change in his mindset. The pair would meet at 9am at a gym in Santa Monica. A two-hour workout would be followed by lunch and another two-hour field session.
Holender says: ‘He’d left West Brom and felt everyone had forgotten how good he was.
He told me, I’m 28, now is the time, I’m ready to show people I’ve still got it”. He was begging me to train two times a day. He said, “When I go back, everyone will remember me”.’
It was mid-August when Holender asked Anichebe to play for his team, Funkytown, in the semi-pro LA Premier League. After three goals in the city of El Segundo, the home of LAX airport, Holender knew it was time for Anichebe to book a flight to the UK and step up his search for a new club.
‘This was a decent standard, Conference level in England,’ says Holender. ‘For his second goal he got the ball in our area. He just started running and didn’t stop. He went by half of their team and scored. He finished his hat-trick with a 25-yard screamer. ‘I was like, “Yeah, you’re ready to go home now”.’
fortnight Anichebe signed for Sunderland and his former Everton boss David Moyes.
‘He had plenty of offers but I’ve always known he loves David. Victor can save Sunderland this season. Especially playing with Jermain Defoe, there will be no stopping him.’
More photos of Victor and his trainer, below…