Onipede Explains Why Agents Do Not Take Nigerian Players To Europe
By Amaechi Agbo
The Chief Executive Officer, Reigns Soccer Agency, Olawale Onipede has stated that lack of focus, indiscipline is among the reasons agents do not take Nigerian players to Europe.
Popularly called Sir White, Mr Onipede told our correspondent in an interview that despite the abundant talents in the country, the background of a Nigerian player is contributing to why he fails in Europe despite having bright start in their football career.
The vastly travelled agent reckoned that apart from obvious lapses in the league, players need to go extra mile in order to achieve their dream of playing in Europe.
“I must tell you that agents find it difficult to take Nigerian players to European clubs because they cannot meet the criteria not to talk of playing the league over there.
“In the past few years we used to have Nigerian players in the Egyptian league. We had the likes of Emmanuel Amunike, John Utaka and the rest but that is no more the case right now. Nigerian players right now find it hard to adapt to the technical and tactical areas of the league. Egyptian league is very strong and lucrative.
“If any Nigerian player can adapt in the Egyptian League, then he can play in any other league in the whole world. That is an African terrain we have. As I always tell people, a white man will pay for your services when you are the best. If you are not the best, you cannot be reckoned with. So you need to be the best.
“African and Nigerian players lack discipline and focus. Most especially Nigerian players precisely. When a Nigerian player signs a contract with a European club, maybe a small team, they can start paying him from 5000 Euro but after 2 seasons, he loses concentration and determination. He becomes inconsistent in training, maybe because of the background he came from, I do not know; maybe the little money he sees. Hardly you see Nigerian players playing at the top realm because they are lazy. I call them lazy players.
“For instance, I had the opportunity to be with a Nigeria national team coach – he coached both the junior and the Super Eagles – he said that you will tell a Nigerian player to start jogging but the moment they move, you see them discussing. They are not mindful of the time factor of the jogging they are doing.
“When you bring a European based Nigeria player along with the local players, you will see the European based player jogging and sweating within the next 15 minutes.
“Let me tell you, I took a Kano Pillars player (I will not mention his name) to Egyptian league, the guy then was the highest goal scorer in the NPFL. On arriving there, he was carrying his hands and shoulders high. I called him and said guy, ‘calm down, be focused. Play this friendly games and you can make a name for yourself and sign a lucrative contract. You have not arrived and you are pretending as if you have arrived.’
“He told me that when he goes to training, he will be seeing Ghana players in Prado Jeep, Mercedes Benz and the rest.
“I told him that he has not seen anything yet. I told him to brace up and do well in training and he will see what happens. He was surprised and told me that the league is rich.
“I am not talking about a top club in Egypt like Al Ahly, or Zamalek. So this is a mentality problem. A player has not achieved anything but he has already put it in his head that he has arrived. Arrived where?” He asked rhetorically.