Sunday, June 13, 2010
Lionel Messi’s Argentina no doubt was the better side of the encounter but the man everyone is talking about is Vincent Enyeama. I was still a student at the college of medical sciences, University of Calabar, when I heard the Peoples Elephants, Eyimba of Aba was to play some of their CAF Champions League group stage fixtures at the U.J. Esuene stadium in Calabar, and since the gate fee was pittance, I decided it was a rare opportunity to see the team that was fast consolidating a reputation as the best Club side in the country.
I can’t remember the scores but I remember Eyimba won that game after a beautiful display of football. The type that is rare in the Nigerian Premier League of today. That team for me was a master piece. A conglomeration of excellent young players through the good will of the then Governor of Abia state, Orji Uzor Kalu. My attention was particularly drawn to the young man who was Eyimba’s safe hands for the day. One particular safe he made with so much finesse made me conclude, though hurriedly, that this was a great player to be. How right I was!
Enter Vincent Enyeama!
Vincent Enyeama, a graduate of biochemistry from the University of Uyo has since then snowballed into one of the safest hands in the world by every standard. He made the world cup party first time in 2002 at Japan-Korea straight from the local league and like he did to Messi yesterday, he made David Beckam and Paul Scholes look ordinary. He seems to have something with the big names. The confidence he exudes was primarily the reason he toppled Austin Ejide who was rather jittery in a pre-world cup friendly game against Ireland in Dublin. Ever since he has become the undisputable Nigeria’s No. 1.
The last time I heard a goalkeeper won best player in any league was Paraguay’s Chilavert. Vincent Enyeama is hero at Hapoel Tel Aviv in Israel where he plays, so much that he was the best player in that league last year. That is a rare achievement for a goalie. Nigerians keep wondering why the big European clubs don’t think he’s good enough. Once he was linked with Bolton, but with due respect to Bolton, we are tired of having our players play for small teams. What happens to the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool or even Arsenal. For God’s sake, Arsenal needs a goalie and Vincent Enyeama is far better than Manuel Almunia, Fabiansky and Vito Mannone and more so will cost very little. At 27 he’s got 10 more years to play at the top if he stays injury free most of the time. If he can reproduce what we all saw against the Albeceleste, the sky could be the super Eagles limit in this world cup.