.Says we pay too much attention to immediate gratification

Former Green Eagles winger, Adegoke Adelabu, has revealed why most Nigerian ex-national team players don’t pay attention to the local league.

Three days ago, former Super Eagles captain, Austin Jay Jay Okocha, was reported to have declared that he would rather watch the English Premier League (EPL) than pay attention to the local league in Nigeria. Many saw Okocha’s declaration as a death sentence on the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL).

However, Adelabu, who played club football with the then IICC Shooting Star of Ibadan, told The Guardian, yesterday, that many ex-players preferred to pay attention to foreign football than the local league for obvious reasons.

“The problem is complicated,” Adelabu, a sports scientist, said. “Even the whole aspiration of the players featuring in the local league in Nigeria is to go and play abroad. The way our players are trained lacks the dignity of upholding the integrity or image of our nation,” he stated.

Speaking further, Adelabu, a former manager of Eko United FC of Lagos, said: “We have image problem. Those managing our football pay attention to players outside than the home based, hence, the home-based feel inferior and thereby attach their importance to going abroad.

“Consequently, they find it difficult to look back because they have lost their emotional connection to their background. The fact that even the football officials are there to seek their own daily bread at the expense of national development is another problem. We lack the spirit of development because we focus too much on immediate gratification in football,” he stated.

The former winger, who dazzled Nigerian football fans in the early 1980s, added; “Let me give you some instances about the emotional connection with football.

“Some years back, a Brazilian player, I think Junioh or Junior was being played (EPL) in a position different from the one he used to play in the Brazilian national team. The Brazilian national coach warned the club that if they continue to use the player in that position they will withdraw him from EPL. The boy was immediately returned to the position he plays in the Brazilian national team. Find out if we have ever monitored the progress of our players playing abroad, talk less of fighting for them.

“There was another year when Barcelona was contemplating when to release Ronaldo for national assignment in Brazil. Before they knew it, the boy had left the camp and on his way to the airport without permission from his club. The Barcelona official could not do anything.

Ronaldo did that because when he was ill, the Brazilian football federation sent two high-ranking official to visit him and spent time with him until he got well. Have we ever done that for any Nigerian footballer or athlete?

“We need people with comprehensive understanding of human relations to harness the physical, psychological and emotional potentials of our footballers and athletes in general so that they can have value in themselves as they serve the nation.

“Can you imagine the NFF contemplating whether or not to invite our player for national assignment because he supported the fact that our female football team should be paid their allowances. You see the height of embarrassment for our nation, FIFA now pays players directly instead of paying through the Football Federation. Our government is not even aware of the global insult. It is time we put our house in order,” Adelabu stated.

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