Daniel ‘D Bull’ Amokachi is a Nigerian football legend who courts great respect from all and sundry in the country.
His name to some is authority and his memories are a fine piece of nostalgia. His nickname was borne out of his never-say-die, brute style of play which saw him make the national team at a very young age.
Amokachi was a fine footballer in his heydays, and wowed crowds with his energetic displays. This, he said is a piece from his military background.
“My love for football whilst growing up was inexplicable. It is what I did – and still do – every day; I played football during break time at school, after school and on the way home from school. We had street and inter-street competitions. It was explosive! There was so much talent and skill on display as teams tried to outdo the other. That, to me, is where the love for the game was nurtured,” he told Athlst.
“My dad was a military man, so my blood is military. Even some of my nephews, uncles, and cousins toed that line. Our family name, ‘Amokachi’, is a name that everyone knows and I’m proud and blessed to have taken it to greater heights during my career as a footballer.”
His story has a pattern and clear course, resonant to many Nigerians, many of whom didn’t emerge from wealthy backgrounds.
The environment is a natural propellant for these players and others as they always have a point to prove.
Despite these backgrounds, and the story that back determination from players, the necessity of quality is not an abstract requirement.
The Nigerian football league back in the day was an exceptional piece of competitive football and it made many national heroes, yet Nigeria didn’t make it to the World Cup until 1994.
Various schools of thoughts have been propounded to defend this. While some have said it’s because of the strong competition back in the day, others have opined it was a matter of luck.
In 2006, Nigeria was dominated by players born and bred in Nigeria, with those grass to grace stories Nigeria loves to celebrate. Those stories are relatable, inspiring, perhaps are our truth. Despite the presence of players of these backgrounds, Nigeria missed out on the World Cup to Angola.
Amokachi, like every other Nigerian is not happy with the Super Eagles’ failure to qualify for the World Cup, but to blame players’ origins and backgrounds as the reason it happened is a disrespect to personalities.
Everyone doesn’t have to come from poverty, the like Amokachi hailed Victor Osimhen for against Ghana.
“Football in Nigeria and Africa is a religion. If we don’t have a player like Osimhen who hawked pure water on the Third Mainland bridge, you can see that’s the way he plays.
“He knows what it takes to play for Nigeria. That’s why he’s running 24/7 to make us win,” he told Supersports.
In his opinion, Osimhen’s ginger comes from his days of selling pure water and that’s what Nigeria needed against Ghana. It’s a statement premised on mere emotional kickabout, with no recourse to the backgrounds and stories of every individual involved in the failure, or more openly and importantly, the systems and setup adopted on the day.
Osimhen, perhaps would have loved to come from a better environment, where his skills would have been honed to global taste a long time ago and he’d be an even greater global talent by now.
To blame the backgrounds of players for what happened on the pitch is a pub sentiment that needs to be discouraged in order to promote unity amongst players.
“And then you have players who grew up outside the shores of Nigeria that don’t know what it takes to wear the national colours in the World Cup, it is different,” Amokachi continued.
“Several of the players have not been to the World Cup, they don’t know what it is. 99 percent of those players haven’t even felt the Nigerian stadium filled up like the way it was filled up.”
For a man like Amokachi, for the glory he controls and his public personae today, a lot more is expected. His opinion to many is the word and it only continues to deviate from the root cause of the problems.
Glorifying poverty doesn’t inspire anyone. Everyone has a story to tell and there are deeper known reasons for Nigeria’s failure than Amokachi is reiterating.