Football has gradually moved to the point of preservation of ethos, ideologies, philosophies, and maybe the lump word – “Club Heritage”. All of the above have become sacrosanct to modern day football, in a bid to retain style, pride, passion, and fan-base during a club’s lifetime.
More so, club heritage is embedded in former players of the club, who are referred to as “Legends”, and are an integral part of the club’s history.
However, while a club’s identity resonate up to their fans in bigger leagues around the world, same can be described as dodgy or non-existent in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).
To further give credence to this, clubs as well as national teams have begun making ex-players a pivotal part of the their set-up, either as coaches, director of football, scouts etc., or extending a hand of fellowship in what ever form. A classic example is Arsenal FC wishing Kanu Nwankwo and other Arsenal players of Nigerian origin a Happy Independence Day Anniversary in a tweet, in spite of the lanky forward having left the club 15 years ago.
In an excluisve interview, 9jabuzzer.com caught up with former Enyimba Int’l FC captain and legend, Obinna Nwaneri, who revealed that Enyimba’s current management has neglected former players of the club. Nwaneri who lifted the CAF Champions League twice with Enyimba international in a no hold bound interview stated that ex-players of the club are not appreciated.
“Like me now I can’t go to the stadium as long as this current management is concerned”, he said.
“We are not welcomed, we are not appreciated, you can never see any Ex-nyimba player going to the Stadium, why? Because we are not appreciated.”
“No Ex-Enyimba player or Legend is working for Enyimba or doing anything for Enyimba it’s only foreigners and people I don’t know because the management is not getting it right.”
“If Obinna Nwaneri former Enyimba captain can’t go to the stadium to watch Enyimba then you know something is wrong, even other players, Obuaracha, Ugo Okpara, Onyekachi Okonkwo, Ndidi Anumunu, we cannot go to the stadium to watch the team because we are not welcomed, we are not appreciated”.
A large chunk of the triumphant 2003/2004 class of Enyimba Int’l FC were conspiciously missing during the novelty game between Ex-Enyimba players versus Ex-Super Eagles players to mark the reopening of the Enyimba Int’l Stadium, Aba, after 3 years. A pointer that all may not have been well at the time.
The former Super Eagles defender who earned 33 caps for Nigeria between 2005-2010, went on to state that it will be commendable if Enyimba’s management support some of the ex-players who are struggling, as well as call upon some of the experienced heads to psyche up and motivate the boys during crunch ties.
“Some of the Ex-Enyimba players don’t have anything doing, you can help them with jobs there, like we that won the CAF Champions League back to back, now they are playing the CAF club competitions, its not a crime to invite some of the Ex-Enyimbas to come and address the players before the match.”
“Invite us to the stadium we will come and watch, it costs nothing, we will come there and watch, cheer them up and encourage them. There’s a lot going on there, but I wish them well.”
While, this isn’t just an Enyimba Int’l FC issue, it behooves on NPFL clubs to join their contemporaries in preserving and transferring club heritage using their ex-players as an integral component.