Spanish top division, La Liga, yesterday met with the Nigerian press in a media parley at the Radisson Blu Hotels, in Ikeja, Lagos. It was an event put together to formally introduce the league’s office in Nigeria and to also make known members of the team here in the country led by Javier del Rio.
Speaking at the event, Del Rio, amongst other things, used the opportunity to list some of their achievements since inception in 22 July, 2016, while declaring the league’s readiness to further grow its partnership with Nigeria.
Some of the achievements listed by Del Rio include the U-15 ‘Promises’ tournament, tour of Spain by an NPFL All-Star side, a technical agreement with the Nigeria Women’s Football League and technical assistance and training of coaches.
To also buttress their commitment to growing the game in the country, La Liga Nigeria brought three ex-internationals, Finidi George, Emmanuel Amuneke and Mutiu Adepoju, who all played in the Primera division, to share their La Liga experiences.
The Nigerian and La Liga legends spoke about their memories of moving to and playing in Spain, and how they adapted to the differences in culture and language.
According to Finidi, settling in was easy for him as he has already spent sometime at Dutch giants, Ajax, while for the ‘head master’, Adepoju, it took him a while following his brilliant performances at U20 Youth tournament in Saudi Arabia back in 1989.
For wing wizard, Amuneke, Luis Figo, who he met while playing in Portugal, made it easy for him to adapt after joining Spanish giants, Barcelona.
They all expressed their happiness with the opportunity the league offered them and how it changed their lives.
However, the trio also lamented the deplorable state of the game in the country, before taking time off to watch and analyse the Madrid derby between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, which was shown live at the event.
There are eight Nigerians currently playing in Spain, with five, who joined on loan back in January.
The players are; Emmanuel Emenike (Las Palmas), Brown Ideye (Malaga), Ramon Azeez (CD Lugo), Oghenekaro Etebo (Las Palmas), Imoh Ezekiel (Las Palmas), Francis Uzoho (RC Deportivo), Isaac Success (Malaga) and Ikechukwu Uche (Gimnastic de Tarragona).
The show was well attended by some big names in the Nigerian Professional Football League, including the CEO of the League Management Council, LMC, Nduka Irabor.
Also in attendance were the body’s Chief Operating Officer, Mallam Salihu Abubakar, Harry Iwuala, Head of Projects at LMC, Tokunboh George-Taylor, MD of Hill and Knowlton Strategies Nigeria, Chidozie Bede-Nwokoye, Marketing Manager.