Former Super Eagles skipper Sunday Oliseh on being appointed the Super Eagles manager went on a scouting mission to get players for his new team. Carl Ikeme was one of the surprise names in his first squad.
Oliseh, like the rest of the world, was stunned by Ikeme’s illness a year ago. His retirement announced today has been another blow. He recounts his experience working with the then Wolverhampton Wanderers goalkeeper. “I was first struck by his reflexes for one so big but it was his ability to negotiate aerial balls that impressed me the most”. Those were observations of a coach scouting a potential playing staff.
When Ikeme finally made it to the Super Eagles camp for an AFCON qualifier he made a much bigger impact on Oliseh. “When we met in person I was pleasantly surprised to meet a man who was dedicated to his work, humble and a fierce competitor. I consider it an honour to have worked with such a great man, sincerely”.
Thrown into battle for his competitive debut against Tanzania, following Vincent Enyeama’s unavailability, Ikeme put up a Man of the Match performance as Nigeria escaped with a point in a goalless draw. “I get credit for calling him (Ikeme) up to the national team but the truth is that he really should have been in the squad well before I came on board. He had been doing great things at his club for long periods”.
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“That Carl Ikeme has to leave football is one of the saddest things I have heard recently for me as a human being first, and as a coach. Watching the World Cup this year and not seeing Ikeme there after the part he played during qualification was also sad”.
Olishe sees Ikeme as “a great human being, a great goalkeeper, a great ambassador for football and for Nigeria, one who has shown so much courage and strength in facing this illness. God bless you Carl, we will miss you on the pitch but we are extremely glad to have you around with us still”
Carl Ikeme might only have held the SE job for a short time but he looked a true natural and delivered big for us every single time. However, in the end, life before sports and I am heartily glad he’s beating the cancer, it shows what a warrior he is indeed. Nigerians are grateful to our true heroes, the guys that add value, that make us feel a little proud and that are true professionals. Carl…. Go well!