The former Nigerian international is seeing his dreams of coaching his fatherland come true just over a decade after quitting active football
Newly-appointed Super Eagles head coach Emmanuel Amuneke has expressed his gratitude to Nigerians and the Nigerian Football Federation for considering him for the job.
The NFF, on Monday, announced the decision to snub Portuguese manager Jose Peseiro and instead name Amuneke as the coach of the three-time continental champions.
The former Barcelona winger will work together with interim Technical Adviser Augustine Eguavoen, as well as with assistants Salisu Yusuf, Joseph Yobo, and Alloy Agu.
While remaining coy about the details of the contractual agreement between him and the federation, Amuneke is aware it is a privilege to serve his fatherland.
“I’m always available to serve my country,” Amuneke said, as quoted by Brila FM.
“I’m grateful to Nigerians and the Federation for looking in my direction. For now, there’s no use speaking much; when it’s time, I will grant an interview about the job.”
Amuneke enjoyed a beautiful playing career, winning titles with Egypt’s Zamalek, Barcelona, and Sporting Lisbon.
But his finest moments came with the Super Eagles and the Dream Team as he scored the crucial goals that won the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations and Atlanta ’96 Olympics football gold for Nigeria.
Amuneke was named the African Footballer of the Year in 1994 and the BBC African Footballer of the Year two years later.
An injury forced Amuneke to quit football in 2004, and the former left-winger took to coaching after earning his licence.
He handled both Julius Berger and Ocean Boys before he was drafted as an assistant coach to Manu Garba for the Golden Eaglets’ side that won the 2013 FIFA u-17 World Cup.
Two years later, Amuneke guided the cadet team to defend the title in Chile as the head coach, cementing his status as an astute youth coach.
And he successfully made the step up to international football after leading Tanzania to qualify for the 2019 Afcon, the country’s second-ever appearance at the tournament.
The 51-year-old’s immediate assignment will be to help Nigeria qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar by beating Ghana’s Black Stars over two legs in March.