In Nigeria, the game of football is followed with a lot of passion considering the fact that the country remains the biggest exporter of footballers in major leagues of the world. The game is not however devoid of players who get famous for the wrong reasons. Below are the top five Nigerian players who though talented, were always at the receiving end of the media. Some are no longer active, while others are still actively involved in both club and country.
Etim Esin was born in Oron in Akwa Ibom State, Southern Nigeria in the year 1960. He emerged as one of the most talented stars in the local scene when he helped Nigeria qualify for the 1987 FIFA World Youth Championship in Chile. His urge potential however suffered serious dent due to lack of discipline and arrogance. In the height of his escapade, Etim Esin was shot by armed robbers in 1987 prior to the Junior World Cup. The nail in his coffin came while he was playing for AK Ghent of Belgium in the early 1990’s, as he was convicted of raping a Belgian girl and subsequently deported back to Nigeria by Belgian Immigration authorities.
Tarila Okorowanta was a creative midfielder who became a local folk hero while playing for Shooting Stars football clubs of Ibadan in the 1980’s. His career was however engulfed in controversy due to lack of discipline and frequent breaking of camp rules. Tarila Okorowanta made the wrong headlines when he defected to Italy while Shooting Stars of Ibadan were returning back from an African Champions Cup match in Tunisia. That rash action led to the eventual fall of his wonderful but short career.
Gbolahan Salami is a striker with the Shooting Stars football club of Ibadan. A bulky and exceptionally gifted player, Gbolahan gained fame when he starred for Nigeria at the U-20 World Cup held in Egypt in 2009. The rising profile of the bully striker however suffered some knocks last year when he was slammed with a two match-ban for verbally assaulting his former coach at Sunshine football club- Gbenga Ogunbote. To compound his woes, he got a one year ban recently when Shooting stars were forced to a 1-1 draw by visiting Crown F.C of Ogbomosho in a Premier League fixture played on Sunday 30th January 2011. He allegedly attempted to attack the match referee- Michael Oshei for awarding a late penalty against his club-side.
Junior Osagie is a former Enyimba and Super Eagles of Nigeria invitee who was fond of breaking camp rules. The highly talented striker could not fulfill his goal of play professional football abroad due partly to his erratic conduct and the negative influence surrounding his career.
Akpan Bassey is the only goalkeeper in the Nigeria Premier League to be given a one year ban since the inception of the league. He was a member of the Ladan Bosso-led U-20 team that participated at the 2007 FIFA World Cup held in Canada. Though lacking in height, he remains one of the best goalkeeper in the Nigeria Premier League till date. His superlative performance has even earned him invitations to the Super Eagles of Nigeria on several occasions. The Heartland F.C of Owerri shot-stopper had earlier been handed down a $650 fine and a one match ban on the 20th of January 2011 for shoving a referee during a Premier league match against Sunshine F.C of Akure.
One sad trend that can be observed from each of these players, is that they are all gifted and talented, but failure to abide by the rules of the game adversely affected their career. It is a lesson which other aspiring footballers must learn from.