Super Eagles goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi has expressed sadness over the news of Wolverhampton Wanderers goalkeeper Carl Ikeme’s retirement from football.
Ikeme, 32, on Friday announced through his English club, Wolves that he would no longer continue in the round leather game after a year long battle with acute leukaemia.
Ikeme made nine appearances for Nigeria’s senior national team and one of his teammates in the team, Akpeyi who plays for South African side Chippa United was emotional when www.aclsports.com broke the news to him.
“It’s a sad moment for Nigerian football to have one of our reliable goalkeepers announce his retirement after battling with leukaemia,” Akpeyi told aclsports.com from his South Africa base on Friday.
“We will want to wish him the best afterwards because his life is most important at this point in time but it is very sad this situation has to arise,” added Akpeyi who was Nigeria’s second choice goalkeeper at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.
Former Nigeria head coach Sunday Oliseh who gave Ikeme his national team debut told ACLSports on Friday how great a man Ikeme is and Akpeyi who also worked closely with him had loving encomium to shower on him.
“He has been a very encouraging person to us in the goalkeeping department of the team and I’ve always looked forward to him coming back into the team because he is this type of person that encourages you,” says Akpeyi.
Akpeyi was always the standby goalkeeper to Ikeme and such was exhibited during the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Egypt when both players kept goal in the home and away legs with just four days apart in March 2016.
“Ever since I got to meet him and the short period of time that I was with him, I think he is a very fortunate person because when he came into the team when he was invited by Coach Sunday Oliseh, he actually hit the ground running and we picked up a whole lot of lessons from him, me especially,” narrates Akpeyi.
Although he is 32, it was expected that Ikeme could still offer the game at least five more years but his battle with this blood related cancer have dashed such hopes.
Akpeyi, agemates with Ikeme, believes his passion will be missed and cannot but just wish him the best for the future.
“It is what it is, situation just led him to retire now and without saying much, I just want to wish him the best in life and I believe that he’s going to get stronger and stronger though he is going to miss his football, his passion,” he concluded.
Ikeme made 274 domestic career appearances in all competitions, with over 200 of them coming for Wolves, the club he joined in 2000 as a 14-year-old.
The stopper now intends to take some time off with his young family before embarking on life after football.