Representing the national team of a country at any given competition remains the dream of every footballer. The fulfillment that comes with it can only be expressed after the tournament must have come and gone.
That is the case of former Super Eagles goalkeeper, Abiodun Baruwa, who disclosed that playing at the 1998 FIFA World Cup was the high point of his football career.
Fondly known as ‘Omo Alhaja’, Baruwa was a stand-in player for the Dream Team at the 1996 Summer Olympics when Nigeria won the gold medal.
He was also at the goal post for Shooting Stars (Nigerian football club), when they lost to Zamalek in the final of the 1996 African Cup of Champions clubs via penalties.
Despite not playing a game in the France 98′ World Cup, he told Soccernet.ng from his base in London, England on that being part of the 1998 World Cup party under Super Eagles coach, Bora Milutinovic was his greatest moment as a player.
“Definitely! Mind you, it is the dream of every footballer to represent their country at the World Cup and I see no reason why I should not be grateful for being part of the party. Though I never kept any game but to be listed for the showpiece was a once in a lifetime experience for me,” Baruwa said.
“Again, I remembered when we played the Guinean team for the World Cup Qualifier in Lagos Main Bowl and another one was the day we qualify for World Cup in France where we played Kenya in Lagos Main Bowl. All these games are so still fresh in my memories.
“No matter what, I am still grateful that I had the chance to represent my country at the World Cup.”
The former SK Sturm Graz (his Austrian football club), goalkeeper managed five caps for the senior national team before his retirement from the game that brought him fame.