By BENJAMIN NJOKU
After sustaining a knee injury which later brought an end to his blossoming career in football, former, Enyimba star, and ex-Under 17 (Eaglet) player, Emmanuel Iheabuchi Odife is bracing up for another life.
My journey into football
I started playing football as a student at Metropolitan Secondary School, Onitsha in 1994. My school then produced old breed players like Chinedu, Peter Anosike, Leornard Uzoma. I began my football career with Enyimba Football Club way back in the late 90s.
Later, I played for other club sides like Lobi Stars, Busdom FC, Port-Harcourt and Udoji United. I was also among the 1996 National Under-17 team (Eaglets). I played for Lobi Stars for three months before I joined Udoji United in 2004.
While playing for Busdom FC, Port-Harcourt, I sustained a knee injury that brought my career in football to an end. Though the injury has long healed, I still feel the pain once in a while because of the fact that it was not properly treated. In Eyimba FC, they nicknamed me “Strong Man Yellow’’ because of my football skill.
I feel bad sometimes that I’m no longer active in football because most of my friends like Uche Kalu, Onyekachi Okonkwo are doing very well in their various club sides in Europe. Uche Kalu and I, were club mates at Enyimba FC before he went international. Each time, he runs into me in Nigeria, he never stopped wondering why I stopped playing football. But I’m the only person who understands why I terminated my football career.
I was about travelling to Turkey then, and also, Denmark. But it didn’t work out because of the knee injury I sustained. I was one of the Under-17 players under coach Mr Fani Amun. I played alongside football stars such as Babangida, Ogbonna Kalu, Haruna Mohammed and many others.
The cause of knee injury
It depends on how you want to play while in the pitch. You have a duty to impress your coach in the pitch. In each match you are featuring in, one is expected to put in his best despite the fact that one is likely to sustain an injury.
I joined Nollywood in 2008, principally to make ends meet. I thank God today, I’m an executive producer in the industry. I recently produced my first movie which has been released into the market last month. My younger brother, Iyke Odife and some of my close friends like Sunny Lucky Star, Kenneth Ogbuke and Emeka Igwenba introduced me into the business of film making. They convinced me to join the industry because they were all doing very well. I fell in love with what they were doing, so I decided to join them.
I have been acquainted with the industry before I finally made up my mind to join them. In fact, while I was still a footballer, I was already mingling with the movie stars. Then, I was the one that introduced my younger brother to Amaka Igwe. She lived in the same area with me in Ikeja. I also encountered Sydney Diala because of the role he played in ‘’Circle of Doom’’.
Then, I was living in the same vicinity with most of them. As a result, I used the opportunity to introduce my younger brother to the stars who exposed him to the art of film making. During that period, I resolved within myself that whenever I was through with football, I would venture into movie production. Today, I have fulfilled that dream. And that’s why I’m determined to do something new and different in this industry.
Movies I have produced
I have produced three movies so far titled ‘The Kings Sleepless Night’, ‘The Empty Throne’, and ‘Forgiveness of Blood’ would be out in the market very soon. The movie featured Chioma Chukwuka, Chika Anyanwu, Leo-Mezie, Annie Macaulay, Prince Nwafor, Nnosa, Onyo Micheal, Ella Daniels amongst other stars. I want the movie to be out in the market in the first week of April.
My parents’ reaction after I sustained the injury
They were not happy. And my siblings were not happy too. Till today, my elder and younger sisters hardly watch football matches again simply because I’m no longer playing. They are not happy that the injury terminated my career in football. I would have been making waves now like my contemporaries.
My vision in Nollywood
My vision is to make a difference in the industry, to create something that has never been done before. In my opinion, Nollywood and football have a lot in common, its all about entertainment and movie stars love footballers. Emmanuel Babayaro produced a movie where he featured Martin Obafemi, Osaze and Uche Kalu.