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Top Five Nigerian Football Players That Caught Headlines for the Wrong Reasons
In Nigeria, the game of football is followed with great passion given the fact that the country remains the largest exporter of footballers to the world’s major leagues. However, the game is not without players who become famous for the wrong reasons. Below are the top five Nigerian players who although talented, were always in the headlines. Some are no longer active, while others are still actively involved in both the club and the country.
Etim Esin was born in Oron in Akwa Ibom State, Southern Nigeria in 1960. He emerged as one of the most talented stars on the local scene when he helped Nigeria qualify for the 1987 FIFA World Youth Championship in Chile. However, his motivational potential suffered serious damage due to his lack of discipline and arrogance. At the height of his escape, Etim Esin was shot by armed robbers in 1987 before the Junior World Cup. The nail in his coffin came while he was playing for Belgium’s AK Ghent in the early 1990s after he was convicted of raping a Belgian girl and then deported back to Nigeria by Belgian immigration authorities.
Tarila Okorowanta was a creative midfielder who became a local folk hero while playing for Ibadan’s Shooting Stars football clubs in the 1980s. His career was however mired in controversy due to his lack of discipline and frequent flouting of camp rules. . Tarila Okorowanta made the wrong headlines when he defected to Italy while Shooting Stars of Ibadan were returning from an African Champions Cup match in Tunisia. This rash action led to the ultimate downfall of his brilliant but short career.
Gbolahan Salami is a striker with Shooting Stars Football Club of Ibadan. A powerful and extremely talented player, Gbolahan shot to fame when he played for Nigeria at the U-20 World Cup held in Egypt in 2009. However, the rising profile of the violent forward suffered a few blows last year when he clashed with two match- ban for verbally assaulting his former coach at Sunshine Football Club- Gbenga Ogunbote. To compound his problems, he was banned for a year recently when Shooting Stars were held to a 1-1 draw by visiting Crown FC of Ogbomosho in a Premier League match played on Sunday January 30, 2011. He is suspected of tried to attack the match referee- Michael Oshei for a late penalty against his club team.
Junior Osagie is a former Enyimba and Super Eagles of Nigeria invitee who was fond of breaking camp rules. The highly talented striker was unable to fulfill his goal of playing professional football abroad, partly due to his erratic behavior and negative influence surrounding his career.
Akpan Bassey is the only goalkeeper in the Nigerian Premier League to have been handed a one-year suspension since the start of the league. He was a member of the U-20 team led by Ladan Bosso that participated in the 2007 FIFA World Cup held in Canada. Although he lacks height, he remains one of the best goalkeepers in the Nigerian Premier League so far. His superlative performance has even earned him invitations to the Super Eagles of Nigeria on several occasions. The Heartland FC striker of Owerri was previously fined $650 and banned for one match on January 20, 2011 for shoving a referee during a Premier League match against Sunshine FC of Akure.
A sad trend that can be observed from each of these players is that they are all gifted and talented but not following the rules of the game negatively affected their career. It’s a lesson other aspiring footballers should learn from.
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