For the past few weeks, I have been studying television footage and still images of members of the Nigerian Golden Eaglets team which won the FIFA U-17 World Championship in
I have decided that after my time in the scheme, I will buy a carton of the most effective and efficient brand of shaving powder on the Nigerian market, a pair of football boots and head out into football fulltime. I get the feeling that there may never be a better opportunity for me to transform my enthusiasm for a lot of vocations into financial success than what cadet football at the international level offers to me now as a Nigerian. Considering the euphoria that has greeted and which will, for sometime to come, continue to greet the Golden Eaglets’ triumph in the
Of course I am aware of the likely fate that awaits my football career after this planned outing with either or both of
The careers of members of Nigeria’s Japan ’93 U-17 team are hardly any more reassuring: OK, Kanu Nwankwo is a miracle case; Wilson Oruma’s career never really took off; Manga Muhammed never got it going as well; by 1994 Peter Anosike was nowhere near what you could call serious football; Mobi Oparaku trudged on till the Atlanta ’96 Olympics and after that it was the logical pear shape for his career. Shall I go on?
Elsewhere, Julius Efosa Aghahowa, despite all his gymnastic abilities, and being still ‘only’ about 25 has, in truth, only had a professional football career (if he truly ever had any) which after 1999, lasted only two years, years he spent playing in one of Europe’s lowest leagues. And by the way, Femi Opabumi should be 21 this year, but it now seems like generations ago since he was hailed as a sparkling golden starlet and the future of Nigerian football. What about the other members of that same U-17 team to Trinidad & Tobago in 2001?
A look through the current career profiles of several members of the Argentine, Chilean, Brazilian, Czech and several other teams at this year’s World Youth Championship in
So, will Christianus or Chrisantus Macaulay be good enough to attract the interest of the likes of Arsenal FC, Olympic Lyonaise and other big or decent clubs in
But what is the reason why South American, European and other football players have longer playing careers in football than their Nigerian counterparts? Do they train better? Yes, in some way. Are they genetically luckier? I don’t think so. Are they more committed and dedicated, individually and collectively? Definitely, but that is not nearly all there is to the disparity in career length. A more encompassing reason is embedded in our interpretation of calendar dates as reflected in the birth certificates and affidavits Nigerian players carry as opposed to say their European or South American counterparts.
However, I am not about to let the relative lack of longevity in the careers of Nigerian footballers deter me from fulfilling my ambition of playing at the next FIFA U-17 World Cup. I will shave my face religiously and deposit for an affidavit with a court of law. In the affidavit I will ensure that my age is reduced by at least half. And with some strategically placed bribe token, especially since I don’t have to emerge from any football academy to be eligible, I think I will make one of the teams for 2009. So long as I get to play and