The reactions that trailed the news of Victor Moses’ retirement from international football have been as unsurprising as the news itself, to me, but that is enough to serve as a genuine source of worry for every forward thinking football lover in Nigeria.
The 27-year old on Wednesday afternoon announced that he is done with playing international football with his country of birth, Nigeria; continuing a dangerous trend of top Super Eagles players calling it quits with the national team in unceremonious manners.
The immediate reactions by many Nigerian fans to Moses’ abrupt retirement were such as “Who cares” “Take Ighalo along” “He wasn’t even committed before” and so on. However, for a player whose six years of participation in the hallowed Green and White colours were blighted by selfish questions over his commitment to the cause, it calls for a pertinent reflection.
People are retiring…
Moses sef is retiring
Naija don suffer?
— ❤️SportsEmpress™❤️ (@MzMary_Cathryn) August 15, 2018
The greatest concern has to be one that Moses, one of the most influential members of the team throughout his stay with the team is deemed by many as not good enough again due to one perceived average performance at a major tournament; the World Cup. That has been a sad trend. from the last two World Cup participation (before Russia 2018).
An atrocious miss against South Korea in South Africa 2010 coloured whatever good thing Aiyegbeni Yakubu, 27 at that time, had done with the national team till date and marked the end of his international career. Emmanuel Emenike failed to score in Brazil in 2014 (also 27 at that time) and although there were more external issues added to that, he never really got going for the Super Eagles thereafter.
Step in Mr Moses whose record of contributing directly to two of Nigeria’s three goals in Russia – a goal and an assist – will be blotted out for “falling too often” in the loss to Croatia, making him a subject of national ridicule. He was never loved from thence anymore, also not helped by the national team handler Gernot Rohr’s press conference quotes regarding his role in the team and the 27-year hoodoo comes striking again.
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— POOJA… (@PoojaMedia) June 26, 2018
Many international football stars who could not stomach fans’ bile have completely stayed off social media, perhaps one means that Moses and by extension, Nigerian forward Odion Ighalo were gotten to by emotional fans in the wake of the tournament. The 2014 troll of a 27-year old Mikel as “a Snail” might perhaps have been helped by his inactivity on social media, especially Twitter by then.
FIFA announces Nigeria's Mikel Obi among the Brazil 2014 World Cup award winners. Yes he won the award for the Golden Snail ??
— 100% FOLLOW BACK (@NGfollowBack) July 15, 2014
It is impossible to separate Moses’ desire and decision to quit at this stage from the hostile criticism that trailed his World Cup participation because his reasons of “focusing on career and my young family” look lightweight on paper.
The reception of Wednesday’s news with joy and a blasé demeanour also underlines a broader problem; one that sees players in the late 20s as tired legs or not good enough again. While these could be borne out of widely believed cases of insincerity in age used, it goes beyond that for these stars.
It is noteworthy that since the turn of the millennium, only four players; Jay-Jay Okocha, Vincent Enyeama, Joseph Yobo and John Mikel Obi remained key members of the Super Eagles into their early 30s. A cursory look would still however show when some of these stars were deemed not needed anymore but ultimately bounced back to reclaim their positions in the team.
Indeed, Moses’ decision can be termed a hasty one which perhaps could have been taken by someone who had his formative years in Europe but it should raise the question of how our top players always feel unwanted by the fans at that age anymore.
Victor Moses remains one of the most productive members of the Super Eagles within his thirty-eight games spell. Started all but the opening game of Nigeria’s AFCON conquest in 2013 – scoring two goals and creating two assists -, he contributed immensely to Nigeria’s qualification for the two World Cup tournaments he participated in and Nigeria have failed to qualify for an AFCON tournament since 2013; part of which considering Moses’ decisiveness in other qualifying tournaments he participated in, his absence in almost all the qualifying matches was a big miss.
The injury profile of the Benin City-born footballer is well documented but what baffles was the absence of that fact in his statement on Wednesday; that should bother every Super Eagles fan going forward.