After taking the pitch in the Super Falcons’ 0-0 draw against Republic of Ireland on Monday, Onome Ebi made history by becoming the first African footballer, male or female, to appear in six World Cups
Super Falcons’ captain, Onome Ebi, has been captured in a touching scene as she receives heartfelt messages from her teammates, Soccernet.ng reports.
Before the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, reports emerged regarding a division within the Nigerian women’s national team, allegedly stemming from a leadership dispute between the veteran center-back and Asisat Oshoala.
This rumoured discord had escalated into factions, with predictions of poor results in the tournament. Despite this, Ebi, once labelled ‘old’ by critics, experienced a moment of unity when she received a touching message from a fellow Super Falcons teammate.
Amid the distractions, Ebi’s determination to set records, contribute on the field, and provide leadership behind the scenes played a crucial role in Randy Waldrum’s team’s commendable performance until their exit in the round of 16.
Addressing the criticisms, Ebi said, “It’s part of the job. I hear it. I’m not going to lie. Some people say I’m too old to play football, that I shouldn’t be on the pitch, and that I should make way for younger players. What can I say to that, apart from the fact that I love this sport more than anything? I was already kicking in my mum’s tummy!”
During the tournament, Ebi saw limited playing time of nine minutes across two games, while lending her support to her younger teammates from the sidelines in Brisbane.
The former rivalry with Barcelona Femeni’s forward over captaincy seemed to have transformed, as Ebi celebrated Oshoala’s goal from the sidelines against Australia, a testament to unity and not division within the team.
Watch the video here:
A recall to a different angle of Asisat Oshoala’s goal against Australia.
I perceived unity and not division. Maybe there were ‘fractures’, but who said it cannot be settled.
Here is Ebi, celebrating Oshoala’s goal. 🇳🇬🔊 pic.twitter.com/7dPkgwCIUO
— Ayomide Oguntimehin (@ayo_oguntimehin) August 22, 2023
Following the loss to England, as the Super Falcons returned home, ‘mama’ fondly called by teammates, shared an emotional video on her social media. In the video, she’s seen overwhelmed while watching messages from her teammates who must have expressed their admiration and fondness for her.
“In that priceless moment, watching messages from my teammates, I never knew they all loved and cherished me that much. I never saw it coming; I never knew I inspired my own teammates. The tears kept coming for almost 10 mins,” she wrote on her Twitter feed.
That priceless moment I watched messages from my teammates😢❤️🇳🇬🤗🥰, I never knew they all loved & cherished me that much. I never saw it coming, I never knew I inspired my own teammates. They never just said it to me physically 🥺❤️🤗. The tears kept coming for almost 10mins pic.twitter.com/fGzXxwdufm
— ONOME EBI (@EBIONOME) August 17, 2023
As the biennial event concludes with Spain clinching the trophy, attention turns to Ebi’s future in football. The question lingers whether she will continue to play or choose to retire.