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Top Five Nigerian Football Players That Caught Headlines for the Wrong Reasons
In Nigeria, the game of football is followed with great interest considering that the country is still the biggest seller of football players in the major leagues in the world. The game is not without players who are popular for the wrong reasons. Below are the top five Nigerian footballers who despite their talent, are always on the receiving end of the media. Some are no longer working, while others are still working in both groups and the country.
Etim Esin was born in Oron in Akwa Ibom state, Southern Nigeria in 1960. He emerged as one of the most talented stars in the region when he helped Nigeria qualify for the 1987 FIFA World Youth Championship in Chile. His intentions were complicated by his recklessness and arrogance. When he escaped, Etim Esin was shot by robbers in 1987 before the World Cup. The nail in his coffin came when he was playing for Belgium’s AK Ghent in the early 1990’s, when he was found guilty of raping a Belgian girl and was later deported to Nigeria by the Belgian Immigration authorities.
Tarila Okorowanta was a midfielder who became a local hero while playing for the Shooting Stars club in Ibadan in the 1980s. However, his career was fraught with controversy due to his lack of discipline and frequent breaking of camp rules. Tarila Okorowanta made headlines when he left Italy while Ibadan-based Shooting Stars returned from the African Champions Cup in Tunisia. That rash act led to the downfall of his remarkable but short career.
Gbolahan Salami is a member of the Shooting Stars football club in Ibadan. A big and talented player, Gbolahan rose to fame when he played for Nigeria at the U-20 national championship held in Egypt in 2009. He was banned from beating his former coach at Sunshine football club- Gbenga Ogunbote. To add to his woes, he was banned for one year recently when Shooting stars were forced to draw 1-1 away to visiting Crown FC of Ogbomosho in a Premier League match played on Sunday 30th January 2011. He allegedly tried to attack the referee- Michael Oshei for awarding a late penalty against his team. .
Junior Osagie is a former Enyimba and Super Eagles of Nigeria call-up who used to break camp rules. The talented striker could not achieve his goal of playing professional football abroad due to his erratic behavior and negative influence surrounding his career.
Akpan Bassey is the only goalkeeper in the Nigerian Premier League who has been banned for one year since the league started. He was a member of the U-20 team led by Ladan Bosso that participated in the 2007 FIFA World Cup held in Canada. Despite his lack of height, he remains one of the best goalscorers in the Nigerian Premier League to date. His performance has earned him a call-up to the Super Eagles of Nigeria several times. The Heartland FC Owerri shot-stopper had previously been fined $650 and banned for one on January 20 2011 for pushing a player during a Premier League match against Akure-based Sunshine FC.
One sad trend that can be seen in each of these players, is that they all have skills and abilities, but failure to follow the rules of the game hinders their career. It is a lesson that other aspiring footballers should learn from.
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