June 22, 2024

REVEALED: How NFF board members betrayed Finidi

Finidi George

Finidi George

*Former media officer alleges members now turn godfathers to Super Eagles players

*Accept gratifications from them


Many out there saw the Finidi vs Osimhen saga as just another player Vs coach disagreement that will fade away with time. To some, this is the perfect occasion for the NFF to stamp their feet against indiscipline among national team players by coming down hard on Victor Osimhen.

This writer knows Victor Osimhen very well. I worked with him for close to two years as media officer of the Under-20 National team of Nigeria and I don’t really need anyone to tell me about his temperament. We ate together, travelled together and spent the nights gisting after dinner.

I really don’t need anyone to lecture me about his temperament. He is a warrior, fighter and above all, he is the most patriotic footballer I have ever seen or known. His passion in the green white green jersey is second to none. His hunger for success is unbelievable and he has got a big heart.

I remember the Under 20 Qualifier against Burundi in Bujumbura and the victory against Sudan in Omdurman. On both occasions, Osimhen rose to the occasion even though he was nursing a knee injury and had to play in pain.

That tells you how passionate this young man is when dressed in Green White Green. So you would understand why he felt betrayed by comments allegedly made by coach Finidi George, describing him as unpatriotic. Such comments will hurt any true patriot especially when you remember the sacrifices. Let’s not forget too that he claimed he called to inform the coach of his injury after visiting his doctor in Wolfsburg and also pleaded with the coach that he would like to be in camp to offer moral support to the boys at the detriment of his own comfort, which coach Finidi turned down

Nevertheless, there is always the need to apply caution and maintain a calm, cool and coordinated approach at all times especially when you find yourself in that position where many now see you as their role model, mentor or icon. As current African footballer of the year, Osimhen ticks these boxes perfectly and has even grown to be classified as an idol to so many young footballers on the continent.

In an attempt to unravel all the mysteries surrounding that accusation purportedly made by Finidi that Osimhen and a few others pick the games that suit them and that majority of these players are not patriotic, this writer has taken time to dig deep to find out what transpired at that meeting that was held inside the conference room of the honourable Minister of Youth and sports.

Now, what you are about to read below, are highpoints of the meeting as narrated by two persons who were privileged to be part of the meeting and have agreed to talk only on condition of anonymity.

The meeting that matters

The NFF delegation to that meeting held at the office of the Sports Minister, was led by NFF president, Ibrahim Gusau. Also on the entourage were the NFF 1st Vice president, Anyansi Agwu, General Secretary Sanusi Mohammed, team secretary and director of competitions Dayo Enebi with NFF technical director Augustine Eguaveon completing the list.

The Sports minister Senator John Owan Enoh had invited the NFF and FInidi to come explain Nigeria’s dismal performances in those two World Cup qualifying games against South Africa and Benin Republic and proffer solutions on the way forward. At some point during the deliberation, Super Eagles head coach, Finidi George was asked to speak and he poured out his mind, without holding back.

What did Finidi say?

According to my source, Finidi heaped the blame on his players. He was furious with the way the players responded to National call-ups which some of us complained about in the build up to these matches. My source said Finidi then went on to assure the Minister and his employers, the Nigeria Football Federation, that he had absolute confidence that the Super Eagles could still qualify for the World Cup if all hands were on deck. He said that he was surprised that a few players in the team had Godfathers in the NFF. According to him, whenever he tried to stamp his feet on certain behaviours in the team, some persons would remind him that the players in question belonged to either a board member or a top official of the NFF.

It was at this point that the NFF Technical director, Augustine Eguaveon cut in and told Finidi, that to succeed as head coach, he needed to stamp his authority, be decisive and be brutal if need be. Eguaveon gave an example of how he banished Yakubu Aiyegbeni to the bench because the former Portsmouth striker who at the time was doing so well in the Premier league, thought he deserved an automatic jersey whenever he came to camp.

Finidi then responded by saying he was going to change his approach thenceforth. He said he would no longer tolerate these unpatriotic players in the national team. This was when he now said a player like Osimhen could have taken the risk and come to play for Nigeria if he really wanted to do so. This is according to my sources.

However, I am not sure that Finidi made this comment to indict Osimhen. As at the time he dropped that line, he was trying so hard to keep his job and make his employers see him as a man who could wield the big stick when it really matters. He was also just looking for a name to use to balance his thoughts and anger and Osimhen unfortunately, became the scapegoat.

At that meeting, the NFF didn’t tell Finidi in the presence of the Sports minister that they had plans to engage a foreign technical adviser. However, he might have offended the gods by revealing during that meeting with the minister that some top guns in the federation were Godfathers to players of the Super Eagles and that explains why they are seen as the untouchables.

Little wonder, a decision was taken behind him, to employ a foreign technical adviser and demote the former Enyimba of Aba head coach to assistant coach. Immediately Finidi got wind of this plan, he quickly tendered his letter of resignation.

Infact, his first letter that was sent to the NFF, was not signed so he was asked to withdraw and sign before sending it again.

How did Osimhen get to know about what Finidi said or did not say?

It will also interest you all to know that there are top officials of Nigeria football who are on the payroll of Nigeria footballers. I know of a footballer that once gave an administrator in the previous board a wrist watch worth over €40,000. I am also aware that every Super Eagles team list comes with a price.

Before a Super Eagles team list is released, there are lots of interests at stake and most players, except the established names like Osimhen, Lookman, Nwabali and a few others, come to the Super Eagles camp, armed with gifts for their Godfathers.

That is why these Godfathers will do anything to please the players in return. There are also those secretariat staff that have their ears to the ground and push out this information daily to curry favours. So it baffles me, why anyone will be surprised that Osimhen got inside information of what transpired at the meeting. He is too connected and too rich to be left in the dark.

Now that it is established based on available facts that Finidi alleged that Osimhen and a few others were not 100 per cent patriotic to the national cause, it is on that basis we could now judge that Instagram live video posted by Osimhen and pass a judgement thereafter.

Osimhen had no reason to go live the way he did and his choice of words on the day are not acceptable

Victor Osimhen is a Superstar of repute. The current African Footballer of the Year, a Nigerian player who is now idolized in Naples. I remember in one of my recent interviews with him in Abidjan, during the recent AFCON, I saw a few diehard fans who had travelled all the way from Naples to Cote d’Ivoire, just to support the best footballer after Diego Amando Maradona to have played for the club.

Putting all these into consideration, Victor Osimhen should know the weight of whatever comments he makes. He must learn to talk at all times to impress his fans and promote his brand no matter his frustrations, obsessions or irritations.

Secondly, for his personality, class and position, he shouldn’t be the one speaking always, he should delegate these responsibilities especially reactions to sensitive issues like this one, to his manager, agents or trusted friends. Your choice of words also matters.

In all, Osimhen by that singular act, has demoted himself from that exalted seat of an icon in the hearts of his diehard fans. Attacking his coach the way he did and generalizing the attack to include Nigeria and Nigerians was demeaning to say the least.