China ’85 Heroes’ Memories

China ’85 Heroes’ Memories

Binebi “Carlos” NumaCentre Back

Q: What can you remember from that tournament?
B.N: I remember a lot. The experiences were amazing from the preparations in Nigeria where players were picked, to the national camp in Lagos and when selected players went to China unheralded. We got to China and we were not favourites but we won our games one game at a time until we got to the final. It was an amazing experience.

Q: Which game will serve as your most memorable one?
B.N: The tournament as a whole was memorable because all games was important. The first game which was our foundation game was difficult because we have not played at that level before.

To the Guinean game was against an African team and was very difficult. It went into extra time and to the finals. It was very unusual for an African team to be in it and to also win. They were three important games that we played in the tournament.

Q: What can you say about the heroes welcome you people got on your return?
B.N: The welcome was unbelievable because it was not something we expected. We thought we’d just return home to family and friends but to our surprise, the runway of the airport was jammed, the plane could not land and all that. The number of people that waited for us along the way was unbelievable and had not happened in Nigeria before.

Q: There were promises not redeemed to you but you met with the Federal Government last year. Has anything come out of it?
B.N: I must commend the Federal Government for remembering us after 31 years. In as much as we didn’t get the volume we expected but it’s still something. The remembrance alone was reenergizing and the funds we got is really sustaining us and it’s something that others (other teams that did not get their promises) could build on.

Q: Going forward, what would be your advice to the football house or government in encouraging young talents?
B.N: My advice will be for us to go back to youth tournaments because these tournaments would be an avenue for youth teams to train the players. Once the players prepare properly and we pick them from the tournaments, we will be able to get the best.

But this way of trying to screen players all over the country will be a difficult task and you might not get the best compared to when you pick them from tournaments where you can get players that will last a long time.

Nduka “Sao Paulo” Ugbade: Left Back/Skipper

Q: What do you remember from that tournament?
N.U: A lot of things. The most important thing is that when it comes to that day (August 11) every year, there is something that is triggered within my soul that makes me very very strong and happy without even knowing. Honestly, it was awesome, unbelievable because we were young then and we never knew what it took to have been able to do such and we did it being the first black men/African nation to win anything that is defined as a World Cup competition.

Q: Is there any game in that competition that you always have fond memories of?
N.U: Two games actually. The game against Guinea that we nearly lost. We got a draw and we had to play penalties in the quarter finals. Then the game against Germany in the final that we won 2-0. It was unbelievably hard, very difficult but it was also at the end that we were able to get the two goals.

Q: On returning home, you had a heroes welcome. What do you make of that welcome?
N.U: It is a thing that has never been seen again in the history of Nigeria. For those that kept the record and for the cameras that followed us back then, not like now that everywhere is filled with the internet and camera phones and you can record for hours.

There were thousands and thousands of people that followed from the airport all through passing through Surulere, Yaba, Oyingbo, Third Mainland Bridge, Sabo and all that area until we got to Dodan Baracks area before we moved on a truck to Broad Street where we were received.

Thousands of people followed and millions were watching at home because it was broadcasted live on Television. It was unbelievable.

On Buhari
And I want to use this opportunity to thank the President, Buhari that after 30 years, he remembered to give us what we were supposed to have gotten. At least he did wonderful thing for us by remembering.

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