By Onochie Anibeze,in Berlin
Avinoam Porot is inhis 60s. He is an Israeli journalistÂ who would always remind you that he is from a beautiful country.
A walk from our Abba Hotel on Lietzenburger street to Savignaplatz train station on our way to the Olympic Stadium brought out the best he knew of Nigeria.
He mentioned Nigerian players this reporter did not know. In these days of players going abroad from academies, you may understand my problem with the names he reeled out.
But he actually started with track and field. We are here in Berlin for the World Championships and Porot is happy that he was there when a phenomenon lowered the 100m race time to 9.58 and would have probably run 0.2 secs faster if he did not look side ways in celebration about five metres to the line. â€œNothing can be like what we saw here on Sunday,â€ Porot says of Usain Boltâ€™s record that the world will continue to talk about.
â€œ Iâ€™m happy I was part it all,â€ Porot continues. â€œIt has vindicated me because I told my newspaper it was important we covered the championships and some people felt it would not make a huge difference. Now they are calling for more details.â€
We were now on the train heading to the stadium.
â€œHow is Francis Obikwelu?,â€ he asks. â€œDoes he come home?â€ He must be doing well in Portugal.â€Obikwelu is one of the Nigerian athletes who adopted another nationality because of Nigeriaâ€™s indifference to their athletes. He won silver for Portugal at the Athens Olympics and will be thanking his stars for giving him the courage to adopt another country if his status now is anything to go by.
â€œObikwelu is good but he likes money,â€ Porot says.Â He was certainly going to leave Nigeria.Â Even if Portugal did not adopt him another country would have done so because he had made up his mind to seek greener pastures. He was in Israel. He first wanted Israeli citizenshipÂ but the money in track and field in Israel is not big, not as big as what you get in football, so he left and went to Portugal.Â This willÂ be an interesting revelation to Nigerians. Porot is always smiling while talking. He talks well and eats well. Two breakfast experiences were interesting. He is usually slow but he gets you listening.
â€œBello is good but not as good as Yakubu Aiyegbeni when he was in Israel. Yakubu left Israel a one million pounds player but today is worth 15m pounds. Nigerians have been doing well in Israel. Vincent Enyeama is the best keeper in Israel and the second best is also a Nigerian – Dele Aiyenugba. Interestingly, two of them came from Enyimba. I remember Mike Emenalo. He was good, very good. By my rating, he was the best of them all. And he is very intelligent. Thatâ€™s why Avram Grant took him to Chelsea when he was their manager. Mike became their chief scouting officer.Â I interviewed him and he was brilliant. Is he still in Chelsea?
â€œYesâ€, I told him. The topic changed to track and field and the high hotel bills here. At this time we had taken the train ride to the Olympic Stadium and on approaching the stadium ovation of fans cheering athletes meant that we hurried into the media tribune to watch the heats going on and what actually brought us to the historic city of Berlin.