REVEALED: Why Dele Aiyenugba Joined Kwara United
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By Our Correspondent
It is not uncommon to hear or read about great players who after their heroic exploits at global football decided to go back to their home league to play the round leather game yet still.
For instance, six-time World Best, Lionel Messi reportedly said he would one day play in his home Argentina League before hanging his boots.
In Nigeria, however, such news is not only rare but most times considered ‘strange’.
Few years ago, former Super Eagles captain and defender, Joseph Yobo announced his desire to play in the Nigeria Professional Football League, NPFL.
Several clubs in the NPFL including Enyimba, Kano Pillars reportedly queued for the former Everton’s signature. That project never came to fruition as Yobo worked away and never played in the NPFL after.
On Tuesday, however, news of Kwara United completing the signing of former Super Eagles goalkeepe Dele Aiyenugba ahead of the 2020/2021 NPFL season rented the air.
With someone who won the NPFL on four occasions as well as the CAF Chpions League twice with Enyimba FC and thereafter playing for years in the Israeli League, is Bamidele Mathew Aiyenugba’s return to NPFL a fall from grace to grass?
Called Dele Aiyenugba for short, the erstwhile Super Eagles goal tender has expressed delighted after returninh to the NPFL years after his sojourn in Europe.
Aiyenugba made his name in the Nigerian elite division league, where he played for Kwara United and Enyimba International of Aba.
He won the league and won the CAF Champions League title with the Enyimba of Aba in 2003 and 2004 before he ended his stay in the domestic league by moving to Israeli league in 2007.
The former Super Eagles shot-stopper spent seven years in Israel and played Bnei Yehuda, Hapoel Ashkelon, Hapoel Iksal and Hapoel Afula, before returning home to rejoin Kwara United.
Aiyenugba said he is happy to return to where he started his career and hopes his return can inspire other Nigerian players to move back home, in order to share the experience with the young players in the league.
“I came back to the league because I want to encourage other players to return and and encourage young players in the league.
“For example, in Israel, Benayoun went back to Israel, played for 5 seasons at Maccabi Tel Aviv, Beitar Jerusalem, Beitar Tikva, and Maccabi Haifa before he stopped playing. Why we don’t do it in Nigeria kills me. When a player wants to play, they say he’s old and broke, but he needs to feed his family and still has his two legs to play. Will he beg for money from his colleagues to feed his family? It’s so funny,” He told DailyTimes.
Aiyenugba remains one of the most successful players in the history of the Nigerian professional football league, with four domestic league titles, two Nigerian Aiteo Cup, Two CAF Champions League, and two CAF Super Cup crown.