Former Super Falcons and Golden Eaglets coach, Godwin Izilein, has said God will use NFF President, Amaju Pinnick to resolve the issues surrounding his unpaid allowances and salaries. He shares his story in this interview.
By Onochie Anibeze
As a football manager, you have seen the good, the bad and ugly sides of the profession. What for you is the secret to success?
There is no other way to success than hard work, determination, dedication transparency and self-confidence. Like you said, I have seen the bad, the good and the ugly sides in this job of coaching and trying to make boys and girls that are supposed to be street people useful to themselves, their families, and the society. There is no easy way to success in life. I served Nigeria diligently and I do not regret it.
Recently in Benin City, the president of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick made a public pronouncement that coach Godwin Izilein must be paid his money. What Is your reaction to that statement?
What else can I say than to thank God and commend the efforts of Pinnick, for his good leadership qualities because before him, we had NFF leaders who never bothered to take a look at my case. But Pinnick is somebody who cares about the welfare of others, especially those who have served the country and retired without any good thing to show for it. For remembering to take a look at my file and considering me for payment, I know God will bless him and give him more wisdom to pilot the affairs of the Federation.
We heard the NFF is owing you about $12,000 but since all your children are doing very well, we are curious to know what you intend to do with such money if finally paid?
I have a lot of things to do with it. First thing is to give God his own, and call all my friends who have been in the forefront of this battle to a dinner party and keep the rest for my maintenance.
In the course of your career, which people mentored you into what you have become and which stars did you discover?
The journey has been full of ups and downs but I had mentors who were very supportive and directed me on what to do . One of them is Godwin Etemeke. He was director of Sports in Edo State Sports Council. He was always by my side, urging me on. Initially, I thought he was hard on me but I later discovered he was preparing me for excellence
I was posted to Bendel Insurance. When I got to Bendel Insurance and Alabi Essien was posted to the national team, I took over the coaching job. I had some good players in Bendel Insurance like Bright Omokaro, Lawrence Akpokona, Francis Monidafe, David Adiele, Kadiri Ikhana and a host of others.
I also worked at the New Nigerian Bank in 1986. I retained a few of the old players and brought in some fresh ones like Edema Fuludu, Austin Popo and Goddy Banks. About nine of them were UNIBEN students. My team led the National football league until the last day when we were edged out with a point by Leventis United FC of Ibadan.
After two years, I returned to the Bendel Sports Council. I was posted to the Port Authority FC where I met the late Eyo Essien, who became my assistant. I was there until the creation of Edo State when I came back as the Head at the Sports Council. I retired in 2000 and since then I have on been ad-hoc coach of the University of Benin. The institution has won a lot of laurels, the NUGA Games inclusive..
At a time I moved to Okomu FC, where I discovered Yakubu Aiyegbeni. The team won the National Amateur League and from there Aiyegbeni moved to Julius Berger.. He later moved to Israel and then Europe.