The Nigerian legend was close to making a switch to the then-Premier League side, and he’s convinced he learnt a lot there.
Nigeria’s joint most-capped player ever, Vincent Enyeama, has revealed that he became an even better goalkeeper when he went on trials at Bolton Wanderers as the secrets he learned at the English club helped him throughout his career.
Enyeama emerged a hero on the local scene in the early 2000s, when he won three consecutive league titles and two successive CAF Champions League honours with Enyimba.
His shot-stopping ability was further recognized when he was also named the CAF Champions League Player of the Year back to back in 2003 and 2004, a rare feat for a goalkeeper.
He also represented Nigeria at the 2002 FIFA World Cup hosted by Korea and Japan, and it appeared as though the future was set for the excellent youngster.
But curiously, Enyeama was stuck in the Nigerian domestic league until Israeli club Bnei Yehuda took him off the books of Iwuanyanwu Nationale in 2005.
The 37-year-old shot-stopper now admits of a failed three-weeks trial at Bolton Wanderers during that period, which however did wonders for his goalkeeping ability.
“I was a very good goalkeeper before I went to train with Bolton,” the 2009 Footballer of the Year in Israel told ESPN.
“But the two or three weeks I spent at Bolton gave me a different style of goalkeeping and opened my eyes.
“The goalkeeper trainer then, Fred Barber, told me things I needed to change. When I started doing the things he told me, I unlocked different levels to my game.
“I started using those methods, and my game really changed.
“I am still wondering why I didn’t sign. It was a trial that went so well. They even told me I was going to get jersey number 35. All that was left was just to do the medicals.
“I was supposed to be number three, because Bolton had two goalkeepers already, with Jussi Jaaskelainen as number one.
“But I don’t regret it because it gave me the opportunity to go to Israel. I am so happy that I went to Israel because it opened doors for me.”