Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello has called for greater support for Nigeria’s ex-international football stars and their families, saying those who made the nation proud at one time or the other must never be forgotten. He specifically said Nigerians must never forget the contributions of Rashidi Yekini and Stephen Keshi to their overall happiness while they played for the country.
Describing football as a uniting factor, Bello wondered why it has become difficult to replicate the successes of the Atlanta ’96 Olympic Team decades later. The governor spoke at the weekend in Abuja when he received a team of ex-Nigerian internationals led by a former Super Eagles player and ex-Coach, Augustine Eguavoen and former midfielder, Austin “Jay Jay” Okocha.
Other ex-internationals who were present were Victor Agali, Taribo West, Ifeanyi Udeze, Victor Ikpeba, Tijani Babangida and Garba Lawal. Addressing the football legends, Bello said; “When I was told that our heroes, our ex-internationals were available and would want to see me, I was highly elated. I couldn’t wait for the day and I couldn’t just wait for the hour because I know it was going to avail me the opportunity to once again address the nation. “Our people say if you don’t know where you are going you must know where you are coming from. We must at all times reflect on this. “All of us are gathered here today to simply pass a message to Nigeria and Nigerians that if we don’t know where we are going to, we should know where we are coming from.
The Tunisia ’94, USA ’94, and Atlanta ’96 happened just yesterday and what we hoped was that by now we should have lifted the World Cup. That was our hope but it is still a mirage today. We had hoped that by 2021, we should have had a developed nation competing with the USA, UK, and every other developed country of the world. “Going by the rate at which these our heroes were dedicated and committed, we should have gone further than this. I think many of you were picked from street football and did not even go to football academies but you made Nigeria proud. Those days, when you saw your arch-enemy, you would hug him because the Super Eagles were winning their matches. Those were the old good days when we didn’t care who was in the team. We didn’t care whether you were an Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa man. What was important was let the Super Eagles win.