Ex Nigeria international goalkeeper Ike Shorunmu has revealed that being left out of the 1994 FIFA World Cup squad by former Super Eagles manager, Clemens Westerhof, was a blessing in disguise for him.
Shorunmu, who was part of the senior national team en route USA ’94 alongside goalkeepers such as Aloy Agu, Peter Rufai, and Wilfred Agbonavbare, was dropped from the team due to inexperience.
The former Basel and Beşiktaş goalkeeper also missed the 1998 World Cup as the trio of Peter Rufai, William Okpara and Abiodun Baruwa were selected ahead of him by former Super Eagles manager, Bora Milutinovic.
Shorunmu said he never allowed the continuous omission of his name from the World Cup list to deter his football dreams as he kept gathering experience from different clubs in Europe.
In an interview on Brila Fm, the former Super Eagles goalkeeper trainer said that he never lost hope of playing for Nigeria at the greatest football showpiece in the world.
He revealed that Westerhof’s decision to drop him from the ’94 World Cup paid off for him years later.
“When I was in the national team as a goalkeeper during our first World Cup, I was part of the team alongside Aloy Agu, Peter Rufai, and Wilfred Agbonavbare,” Shorunmu said.
“On the final day of the team selection, Westerhof called me. He said, ‘I know you. You are a very good goalkeeper. But what I am looking for in this World Cup is experience. You are still young and have potential. I promise you, if everything should go on well, after the World Cup, I will recall you.’
“This was because Rufai, Aloy and Agbonavbare were more experienced and they were at the peak of their careers then.”
“Initially, I was not happy. But when the truth dawned on me, I saw that he was right with the decision to drop me. They were more experienced than I was then and it eventually shaped my career.”
His hard work eventually earned him a place during the 2002 World Cup in Japan/South Korea as he was in goal for the two matches the team played against Sweden and Argentina before Vincent Enyeama was introduced in the last group game against England.