Femi Opabunmi is the current Head Coach of Alamu Football Academy, which is set to compete in the Nigerian Premier League
Former Nigerian national team player, Femi Opabunmi, has revealed the heart-wrenching tale of how he lost his sight while pursuing a career in professional football, Soccernet.ng reports.
The former Shooting Stars left-winger competed for Nigeria in the FIFA World Cup 2002, which Korea and Japan hosted.
When he emerged from the 2001 FIFA U-17 World Championship, which Trinidad and Tobago hosted, he was considered the next major player in Nigerian football.
Meanwhile, his interesting career began to hit a roadblock when he had a serious bout of glaucoma and had to quit playing football.
Opabunmi, speaking to Vanguard, recounted his ordeal while playing for the then-France Ligue 2 side, Chamois Niortais Football Club.
“When I was playing in the second division in France for Niort FC, I found it difficult to see anything when I was on the field of play.” he said.
His vision problems prompted him to seek medical assistance, leading him to visit eye specialists in Romania, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Unfortunately, the diagnosis he received was grim.
“After the medical examinations, I came back to France to consult my personal eye specialist. He informed me that my case was complicated and that I needed to undergo an operation within 10 days, or I would lose my sight completely,” Opabunmi explained.
As a young player facing such a dire situation, Opabunmi had no choice but to undergo the operation. He shared the harrowing experience of being blind for 17 days following the procedure.
Realizing the gravity of his condition and the limitations of medical intervention, he decided to return to Nigeria in search of a solution.
Opabunmi reflected on his decision: “When a white man tells you your case is complicated, you would know it’s not medical, and you have to pray.”
The eyesight problems devastated Opabunmi’s football career, leading to his early exit from the sport.
“Due to the issue, I quit the game when I was still active, which was a painful exit for me. I didn’t like watching Nigeria’s matches back then because I felt bad when I saw my mates still playing active football.” he explained.
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The financial burden of managing his eye condition weighed heavily on Opabunmi, but he expressed gratitude for his continued existence, even in the face of financial hardship.