Vincent Enyeama has been in the news for two days now over his conflict with the new Super Eagles coach, Sunday Oliseh.
Enyeama, erstwhile captain and goalie for the Nigerian Super Eagles football team had a spat with Oliseh in Belgium, where the team is currently camping in preparation for two international friendly matches with Congo, Thursday and Sunday’s against Cameroon.
Enyeama has taken to Instagram to declare his exit from the nation’s football team, he followed up by leaving the Super Eagles’ camp, and expressed his sadness at losing his mother.
But, before he left the camp Thursday, he granted an interview by telephone to Galaxy Television in Lagos. On the channel’s sports show, Sports Edge, Enyeama expressed his sadness, pain, and disappointment with happenings in the Super Eagles team, Nigerian football, his bereavement, and reveals details about his heated encounters with Sunday Oliseh.
Read what he has to say below (Interviewer in bold).
Q: We have heard so much about your rift with Super Eagles coach, Sunday Oliseh. Tell us, what has been going on?
First, of all, I want to thank Nigerians. I appreciate the passion, the criticism, everything. I want to say a very big thank you.
On the issue on ground, I think this is not the best way to treat someone who has served the country with so much enthusiasm and so much passion, so much dedication, you know, commitment. I think I have honoured almost all the matched I have been invited to play for the Super Eagles.
So to be treated the way I was treated a couple of days ago, I personally don’t accept that.
Q: Vincent, what really happened in the camp between you and Oliseh? What is the way you felt you were treated?
When I came to camp, I had no issues with my coach. The coach has been a big part of me. He is there for me. He fought for me when I had issues with the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF). The coach defended me all the way. I have never had an issue with him.
He (Oliseh) doesn’t know me. I don’t know him. We have never played together. We have never shared a football field, together.
The first thing that happened when I first arrived at the camp was a meeting. At the meeting, the coach addressed the players. The first thing he said was that he invited four goalkeepers to camp because he never expected me to come to the camp.
Then, secondly, he said that I was no more the captain of the team. That he had decided and he calls the shots. That was before dinner. He ended his speech with, “Enjoy your dinner”.
For me, it was a little bit shocking because I spoke with the NFF chairman (Amaju Pinnick) during the burial of my mother in Akwa Ibom. I was trying to excuse myself from coming to the camp because of the burial. He said, “No, Vincent, you have to be in camp”. He pushed me to be in camp. And because I really respect him (Pinnick), I told him I was going to leave everything, the thanksgiving service for my late mum. I told him, I was going to abandon it and come to the camp, which I did.
All the family meetings, everything we had to do with the people in the village, I abandoned all and came to the camp.
So, for me to get my first welcome message of being stripped of captainship was a little bit not good for me. And after I had taken my food and ate, dinner had commenced. I am just telling you what played out.
I said, “Coach, please, I would like to say something.” He said, “No, you can’t talk”. I insisted that I wanted to talk. He insisted that I can’t talk. He then said that if I wanted to talk, he would order the team out and nobody would listen to me and I would sit there and talk alone or I would have to walk out if I insisted on talking.
I said, “Coach, I still want to say something.” And he said, “Vincent, get out! You have to leave now. If you don’t leave, I’m going to call the cops, the security to throw you out of this hotel.” He used the word, “security”.
He then got up, went to the door and opened it and commanded me to go out. He said, “Go out, go out, Vincent! Or I am going to call the security.”
So that is how it played out.
So, for me to lose my mother, be invited to the camp, only to be stripped of captainship. Then out of argument, to be threatened to have the cops or security called for me, to me, I think it is the height of it.
I have heard all sorts of things that Naymar this and that. They never treated Thiago Silva that way. They never treated Mascherano that way. Some Nigerians can say whatever they want to say, but for me, I feel that’s not the right way to be treated.
I am still open for playing for Nigeria till the day I die. Till the day I can stop playing football. Till the day God gives me the grace to stop playing football or to keep playing football. As long as I can play football, I will play for my country. Even at the age of 100, if I can play football, I am still open to playing for Nigeria.
But, now, I just want to go home and be with my family.
Q: Does this mean that after speaking with the NFF, you will seek official excuse to leave the camp?
Yesterday, the coach (Oliseh) came back to the bus and said he doesn’t know me, he doesn’t want to know me, he doesn’t care about me, and he doesn’t have anything to do with me.
That is a part of this issue that people don’t know because I haven’t said anything. I keep my mouth quiet, and I said nothing on that bus.
Q: When he said this, you still trained with the team?
I am still with the team because Pinnick told me to wait till he comes (to Belgium). The president of the NFF told me to wait, that is why I am waiting. I am respecting him. That is why I am still in the camp.
The coach said he doesn’t need me, doesn’t want me, he doesn’t know me. And he doesn’t want to know me. So, I shouldn’t be forced to play with such a coach.
I don’t have a problem with him (Oliseh). He is a great man. He is a a great guy. He is a nice guy. But, I tell you the truth, I just wanna go home and be with my family. This period, I am mourning my mum, I don’t want any more problems. Now, people are saying all kinds of things like, “Vincent is stubborn”.
I don’t know if there is anybody in this world who is treated that way that would not want to know why he is being stripped of the captainship.
I am not so concerned about being captain. I don’t have a problem with it (being removed as captain). But, I think I should be given an excuse, a reason why.
I have been playing for Nigeria for 13 years. So I feel if a decision is being taken on me, I think I deserve to know why.
And moreso, I was being invited. I did not come through the backdoor. I was invited.
In my club, in the European Club, if a coach doesn’t play you in a match, he comes to your room, or he calls you, or he invites you to his room. He tells you, “You’re not going to play today, because I want to field another player”. It shows respect.
I have worked so hard for my country. I was part of the success of Nigerian football, then I am being treated like that without being given a chance to express myself. Then, I think that is not fair.
I am feeling so sad. I am feeling really, really sad. Because I would have stopped playing football for Nigeria after the World Cup. But, then, I changed my mind because I love the country so much. I love Nigeria so much. I want her to return to glory. I want to be part of that glory. I want to be part of the pain. I want to be part of what happens in Nigerian football. It breaks my heart that Nigerian football is struggling. But, then, I want to be part of rewriting our story.
But, if the coach and the people don’t want me to be part of it, I believe there are better ways of taking me out. You can call me and talk to me. You can send me a message. You can do a phone call. You don’t need to invite me to camp, to tell me in the presence of everyone. You don’t need to invite me to tell me that you’re going to call the cops for me.
I did nothing wrong. I am not an armed robber. I feel as it I am being treated for what I did. I feel bad, I feel bad. I am telling you the truth. I feel really bad. I feel very sad.
Q: In this trying moment, when you lost your mother, and are now dealing with this row with your coach, what can you say you have learnt from this episode. Vincent, as a man, what have you taken away from all this?
I have learnt a lot. Not to trust any man. But to trust only God. Only God doesn’t disappoint.
We appreciate you, Vincent Enyeama. You first played for Nigeria on June 12, 2002 in Korea at the World Cup. We just want you to know that Nigerians adore you. Condolences on the passing of your mother.
Sorry to cut you short. But this is so painful for me. What do you think those young players will think? “Oh, if Vincent is being treated this way, what about me? I don’t have a future.” It discourages people from playing for their country. It discourages people from giving so much for this country. Imagine you were working so hard for your establishment and one day , you boss walks in and says,”You’re fired.” How would you feel?
Answer me. In the presence of everybody in the meeting room, he says, “Mr. Peter, you’re fired! You are relieved of your duties.” I wonder what you would do?
I would summon up courage and ask why.
That is what I did. I asked, ‘Why?’ And he said, “Walk out or I’ll call the cops.”
How would you feel? Happy or sad?
I will feel bad. Very bad.
Exactly, that is how I am feeling now.
Q: Vincent, there is a report that you entered into an altercation with Oliseh. Vincent, did you threaten to fight your coach at any point in time?
Never. Never. Never. God is my witness. God is the judge. I was prevented from speaking. I was never even given a chance to speak.
I have heard a lot of people say I should have sat down. I should have taken it easy.
For God’s sake, I have played for Nigeria for 13 years. Not one, not two (but 13 years).
So, if I am being treated like a player who is just coming into the camp for his debut game, then I don’t need to be here. It’s a simple thing.
The coach says he doesn’t count on me. I don’t have a problem with that. For me, I just want to respect my mum and walk home.
Vincent, we really appreciate you for everything you have done for our country, Nigeria. We hope and pray that indeed all your efforts will never be in vain. And in this trying moment, God will indeed comfort you, Vincent Enyeama.
Thank you, very much.