When Nigeria hosted and reached the final of the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup, one of the brightest stars that emerged at that tournament was Golden Ball winner Sani Emmanuel but a short six years later, the teen wonder said his final goodbye to football for reasons just recently made public.
Former My People FC kid wonder, Sani Emmanuel, now 26, has opened up on the injuries and unfortunate circumstances that forced him to quit football four years ago when he was largely expected to go on and make himself a fine career.
Emmanuel scored five goals in five games to help the Golden Eaglets power past Mario Gotze’s Germany, Tagliafico’s Argentina and Isco’s Spain to reach the finals of the cadet championship on home soil – Nigeria lost 0-1 to Switzerland in the final – but while many of the other youngsters, including Nigeria’s Kenneth Omeruo, have gone on to stardom, the tournament’s highest goalscorer has disappeared into obscurity.
Asked why he gave up football when Chelsea and Lazio wanted to sign him, Emmanuel told Leero Sports News:
“I had problems with my feet, even during the tournament in 2009. If you remember, I often played in the second half because the pain was unbearable.
“After the World Cup, I could not play at all because I had pulled too much on the hamstring playing with pain. Then I had to stop my career. Even today, it still hurts on the front of the foot.”
Despite reaching out to others for help, no aid came his way, lamented Emmanuel.
“I tried to contact a lot of Nigerian international players, but I never got an answer and it was very difficult to cash.
“I returned to anonymity, without work, without anything. I wanted to set up an academy, but I never managed to get help and I’m still looking for it.
“I tried to contact them (the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF) so many times, but they told me to come home and get by on my own. They had other projects.”