Several members of the Super Eagles have identified the influence of head coach, Stephen Keshi as one of the main reasons the team have recorded remarkable successes in recent years.
Since taking the reins from Samson Siasia in 2011, Keshi has overseen an admirable change in fortune of the Super Eagles.
Nigeria won the 2013 Afcon under the astute management of Keshi, after failing to qualify for the previous edition in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea in 2012.
The Super Eagles then qualified for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil with relative ease and stars of the team like Shola Ameobi and Victor Moses have now identified Keshi as the man who makes things happen.
“Even before I made my debut (for Nigeria), I had heard all about him (Keshi). He’s a legend and one of the best coaches I have worked with,” Shola Ameobi told Fifatv.
Chelsea winger, Moses described Keshi as a “father figure” who commands the respect of all of the squad.
“He’s a huge figure. He’s very inspirational as a manager and that’s how he was even as a player.
“I remember watching him at the 1994 World Cup. He gave everything he had whenever he wore that green and white shirt.
“He’s a father figure to us. We are happy to play under him because he never stops encouraging us,” he said.
Keshi is humbled by the kind words directed towards him by his charges and insists he will always make sacrifices to protect and guide his players.
“Whatever I can do to encourage them (players), I will do that.
“We must always help each other. If they see me as a father figure, that’s nice but I see it as a duty to always help my players whenever I can,” he said.
Nigeria will compete in Group F of the FIFA World Cup alongside Iran, Bosnia-Herzegovina and one of the pre-tournament favourites, Argentina.
The Super Eagles will begin their 2014 World Cup preparations with a friendly game against Scotland at Craven Cottage today.