By Onochie Anibeze
Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan Thursday night made members of the Super Eagles proud of their Nations Cup effort when he organized a befitting reception for them and also rewarded them with money.
The players left Asaba walking taller than their heights. And prominent among them was their chief coach, Stephen Keshi who said he lost words to describe the honour bestowed on him. He said that he would, forever, thank God for creating him a Nigerian from Delta State.
This followed the actions of President Goodluck Jonathan who Tuesday rewarded the players with money and plots of land in Abuja and Dr. Uduaghan who also rewarded the players and coaches with money and also directed that a befitting duplex be built for Keshi in Asaba. Uduaghan also named the Asaba Stadium which is still under construction after Stephen Keshi.
“I have really lost words to describe all these. I thank God for making me a Nigerian from Delta State. What can I do and how do I say thank you? The best way to thank you is to pray for you every day of my life,” Keshi told Dr. Uduaghan who is transforming sports in Delta State.
“Sports is one of the areas we want to develop and which we hope can help sustain our economy beyond the oil time,” Uduaghan said on a day top musicians and comedians entertained at the Dome in Asaba.
Each player of the Eagles got N2.5 million and Keshi’s assistants got N4m each. Keshi himself was given N8m.
For the purposes of making Delta youths take after the Nations Cup heroes, Uduaghan recognised present and former Warri Wolves players in the team and gave them additional N2.5 million. He also rewarded Deltans in the team (Fegor Ogude, Elderson Echiejile and Ambrose Efe) with additional N2.5m.
Warri Wolves FC received N5m for contributing players to the national team. Sunday Mba, Chigozie Agbim and Azubuike Egwuekwe are all Warri Wolves players. Nosa Igiebor, Fegor Ogude and Ambrose Efe all played for Warri Wolves before they left for Europe.
The governor assured that the Asaba Stadium will be completed in six months and should be ready to host local and international matches.
Deltans thronged into the Dome, venue of the reception, to honour the Eagles. The special visitors were greatly entertained. It was a night of laughter, music and celebration of the Nations Cup heroes. In the hall were, interestingly, some of the past heroes of Nigerian football who are of Delta origin.
George Ogawon was the first university graduate to play for the Eagles. He was there and made a speech. Jossy Dombraye, Godwin Etemike, Owolu, Ebuwan Didiare were also great names who played for Nigeria about fourty years ago. Jay Kay Okocha was there too.
Uduaghan wants heroes to mentor the younger ones. It is part of the culture he wants to build in Delta state and wants Keshi and Eagles of Delta origin to play a role in achieving this. The plan is to get more people into sports and also develop the industry.
Hosting the Eagles in Asaba, he said, would likely inspire some young players to stardom.