Vincent Enyeama is a household name in Nigeria and world football. He was the Super Eagles of Nigeria first-choice and the most capped goalkeeper for over a decade until he bowed out in 2015 since he joined in 2002.
He started his football career from the local scene with clubs like Ibom Stars and Enyimba of Aba before he moved to Europe for greener pasture and had a stint with Benei Yehuda; Hapoel Tel Aviv all of Israel. He moved to Lille of France and later to Maccabi of Israel on loan. He recently called it quit with Lille.
Enyeama who spoke in an interview, expresses desire to return again to the Super Eagles if given a chance to serve.
“No, no, no! I have not quit football. I have cancelled my contract with Lille of France and I took a year off to spend some time with my family; I need to concentrate on my family for now and to play golf for fun, for recreation and that is why I’m here (at Ibom Hotels and Golf Resort – Golf Club).
“Sincerely speaking, football is not the biggest of my agenda now; it’s not my number one agenda or priority for me now. What is most important to me now as my number one priority is how to take care of my life after football and concentrate on my family; to have a good time with my family; it’s not all about football. I’ve had an excellent career in football; now is time to enjoy myself. Now I am thinking of a project that will fit me; until I see a project that fits me, football is not my number one now”, he said.
He also explained his love for golf. “I will play golf as long as I live. Golf is one sport I like. I love golf and I have always wanted to play golf. As long as my body can carry the game I will continue to play golf, because it is a very interesting game. The game of golf has no age limit – I love it. That is the reason I’m always on the golf course to play and enjoy myself.
“When asked whether he wants to return to the Super Eagles, he said: “I love Nigeria, I always think Nigeria and I can’t stop thinking of Nigeria. It’s my country and I love to serve my county; if they want me to play and I am invited, I’ll still play and win games for the country.
“But is not my priority; it’s not in the top of my agenda. The situation now is that we have the young ones coming up; they should be given the opportunity to showcase what they have got”, he said.
He also shared his views on the goalkeeping crisis in the Super Eagles. “There is no goalkeeper crisis. We need to work with what we have for now (the present goalkeepers – Akepyi, Ezennwa and Uzoho) There is need to build a good team with what we have; if you have weak goalkeepers, then, you need to build strong defenders – form a strong system that will fit and protect the goalkeepers. It’s normal that you cannot have it all good; it’s just like you have a weak defence, all you do is to build a strong midfield. If that is done we will not be talking about goalkeeping crisis.
What is your take about the goalkeepers – Akepyi, Ezennwa and Uzoho – do you have confidence in them?
“Yea, yeah, yeah! Why not!? I have very strong confidence in them, they are good. Apeyi, Ezennwa and Uzoho they are very good, but there is need to get new goalkeepers, train them at least for the feature; but you cannot discard the ones there now. I maintain that we should make use of what we have – these guys there are not bad, they should be allowed time to get better. They should be given time to develop the confidence they need; it’s all about confidence. I believe they have not been given time at to develop themselves.
He expressed his feelings about Nigeria’s performance at the last AFCON in Egypt. “Nigeria did very well at the AFCON in Egypt. It is unfortunate that they did not win the tournament; out of 24 countries that participated, for Nigeria to end up third position is something worthy of commendation; it’s big thumbs up; a very good performance. In the next dispensation they can improve on this performance – they can be thinking of first position which is lifting the trophy.
He however said sacking Gernot Rohr is not the solution to the problem in the team. “I’m not part of those who want him out. You see, I believe in consistency; people say Clemence Westerhof was very, very good, but he was here in Nigeria for close to six years before he was able to deliver a trophy. The first AFCON he led Nigeria to in Algeria (1990), he did not win; the second AFCON in Senegal (1992) he did not win, until the third one in Tunisia (1994) before he won. Why can’t we give this man the chance to work? Sincerely speaking, to me, Rohr has done well.
Talking about local coaches.
“In my opinion on the issue of Nigerian indigenous coaches, I’m not thinking about a specific coach or who is good and who is bad to handle the Super Eagles or any other (Nigeria) national team. Nigerian coaches need good training. The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) can train the coaches; send them out for coaching courses; attach them to clubs outside the county – speak to clubs, engage in partnership for training programmes, I bet you, they will improve. There are lots of multinational companies in Nigeria that can help for the sponsorship of the coaches. If you bring former Manchester United forward, Ruud Van Nistelrooy or the former Manchester United defender, Rio Ferdinand, who came to Lagos sometime ago, it won’t change anything – is not as if I’m against their coming. It is said that charity begins at home; why don’t we think of how to improve our own before going outside. Training is what the coaches need now and for the feature purposes. I’m just suggesting anyway, because it is not for me to decide.
As a product of the domestic league – Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) – do you think it has been well managed?
“Well, I don’t want to say anything about the NPFL again. I have spoken many times before and I have been misquoted and criticised several times. So, I won’t talk about it again. But, if you ask me on the management of the league I can say it is okay. The league is good and there is improvement in the management. That’s all!
“I wholeheartedly support the invitation of the home-based players in the Super Eagles.They need to bring the local players in; there are good players in the local league that can fit into the Super eagles. There should be no discrimination at all. I started from the local league, so why should anybody think there can’t good players from the local league. The players just need to given opportunity to prove themselves always, that’s all.”
Photo credit: BuzzNigeria