“Entitlement creates an illusion of superiority that clouds our ability of self-improvisation”– H.B.R Patel.
Last week, two former Nigerian internationals were in the news for different reasons. 1980 Africa Cup of Nations winner, Segun Odegbami, continued his criticism of Super Eagles manager, Gernot Rohr.
The Shooting Stars legend is an outspoken critic of Rohr, and last week he claimed the German should not lead Nigeria to the 2022 World Cup.
According to Odegbami, Rohr is not world-class, and should not lead Nigeria to the 2022 World Cup. Recall Rohr just signed a new contract that keeps him in charge of the Super Eagles until December 2022.
However, Odegbami believes a Nigerian should be given the honour of leading the country to the biggest sporting competition in the World.
“A Nigerian should take Nigeria to the World Cup because a foreigner does not understand our football philosophy and psychology,” Odegbami said.
“My belief is that anyone who will coach the Super Eagles must be a world-class coach. Rohr can’t deliver that.
“He’s not a world-class coach that we are looking for without question,” he added.
Odegbami’s comments made headlines, but he was not the only former Nigerian star that was in the news. In far away Albania, Ndubuisi Egbo became the first African manager to win a league title with a European Club.
Egbo led his FK Tirana side to the Albanian league title last Sunday, thereby making history. The former Julius Berger goalkeeper is also set to become the first African manager to manage a side in the UEFA Champions League.
The 46-year-old was Super Eagles back up goalkeeper in the team that finished second at the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations.
Both Odegbami and Egbo made the news last week but for different reasons. While the former 3SC star was busy criticising Rohr, Egbo was setting records in Europe, and he’s an example ex-internationals should follow.
Odegbami is an elder statesman in Nigerian football, and he has the right to air his views on football in the country, especially the Super Eagles.
However, the constant criticism of Rohr is now looking like a personal agenda. His latest criticism has an undertone of racism and would’ve sparked massive outrage if the roles were reversed.
It should be noted that he’s not the ex-international that believes the former Bordeaux manager is not the right man for the Super Eagles.
This view comes from a place of entitlement. Some of these former stars believe just because they represented the country means they’ve earned the right to manage the national team.
It is why former star, Benedict Akwuegbu says he regrets playing for Nigeria instead of Austria. The former Golden Eaglets star claimed the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has failed to appreciate the efforts of former stars by not giving them more opportunities to manage the national teams.
This is an entitled feeling which should not be encouraged at all. Rather than criticise the NFF, they could learn from Egbo.
The former El-Masry could’ve also decided to wait on the NFF after retiring in 2011. Instead, he went for his coaching course and got his UEFA A coaching License- the highest qualification for a manager.
Despite earning his UEFA A license- Egbo had to wait for six years before he was appointed as Tirana’s head coach.
However, for some former players, they are not ready to go through the process Egbo followed, and that’s why they clamour for national team jobs.
Speaking after his record-breaking feat, Egbo revealed it took a lot of sacrifices and dedication to overcome the challenges he faced.
“It is not that they won’t have problems or issues, but they need to believe in themselves because that’s very important. The more they try to stop you, you have to give more confidence to yourself to do more,” he said.
“That’s exactly what happened to me, it was not an easy task for me, being a foreigner and also being a black coach. Though I had wonderful support from the fans, but as they said in every 12, there is always a Judah.
“There are people who don’t want you to achieve anything or succeed, but those are the people that help you more if you take the positives out of their criticism you don’t need to allow it to bring you down, fight more to prove that you can do it. If I can do it, then any African coach can do it.”
Although not every former player can follow the same path, there are lessons in his story. For someone with a UEFA A license- he may have felt too big for the lowly rated Albanian league, and wait on a bigger job.
However, he never felt entitled, but decided to start with what is available, and he’s been celebrated for it. It’s a lesson for Egbo’s former colleagues as the constant criticism of Rohr, and the NFF has not resulted in one of them getting the job.
Egbo is not the only former Nigerian star doing well, or that has done well for himself. The likes of Amuneke and Oliseh- although without a job currently- were brilliant at their previous managerial roles.
Not every former player will get the chance to manage the Super Eagles, and these players need to start looking for opportunities outside the national teams.
Rohr is the second foreign manager Nigeria has employed in the last ten years, which even makes accusations like that of Akwuegbu laughable.
Egbo’s success has shown former players they don’t have to wait for an appointment from the NFF. Hopefully, they can learn and stop feeling entitled.