He made his mark at a time when the Super Eagles craved for a near-perfect goalee, when the team needed a good shot stopper, after the likes of Peter Rufai, Dosu Joseph, Ike Shorumu retired from active football.
Vincent Enyeama was in no time, on every single Nigerian football lover’s lips.
However, following dispute with Super Eagles Coach, Sunday Oliseh, the goalee, over the week announced his retirement from international football. The 33-year-old’s decision came after, Oliseh replaced him as captain with Ahmed Musa, few hours before the match against Congo, in Verviers, Belgium.
“I am no longer Nigeria captain or goalkeeper nor available for Nigeria duty,” the Lille goalee said on Instagram.
“I fought a good fight for 13 years, but now I have finished my course”.
Enyeama is the Super Eagles most capped player with 101 appearances and became the captain following the retirement of Joseph Yobo after the 2014 World Cup.
As expected mixed reactions trailed his decision, as many blamed Coach Sunday Oliseh for not handling the captaincy issue properly.
More so, his wife, has backed his decision to retire from the National side as she showered him with encomium, not just for serving his fatherland, but giving his best to the team as well.
“Yes! You did well! Hold your head up high my love! I’m so proud of you and your dedicated service to your fatherland for 13 good years. I have witnessed your passion and commitment firsthand. You spent sleepless nights just to analyze every goal you conceded, even if there was nothing you could do to save them.
You played through injuries, pains and fatigue. You took the bullets of unjust criticisms, biased and false reporting/information, just to let peace reign.
You missed important family moments to honor national call-ups. Thank God for the opportunity/privilege to serve the nation. Thank God for the strength/skill to carry out your duties. Thank God for all the memories ( good and bad). You leave as a hero. You bow out as a legend. Our children, grandchildren and future generations will hear and speak of your great deeds. God bless you my husband. God bless Nigeria.” she wrote.
But what really led to the feud between him and the Super Eagles Head Coach, Sunday Oliseh, Was it just the captaincy issue, or another which we may not know?
While speaking on Brila FM, Coach Sunday Oliseh said, the storm was over but insisted that Musa, the man who takes over as captain of Eagles have all the qualities of a good captain.
‘’I want a captain who is disciplined. A leader who can motivate other players. A player who comes to camp early. I want a young player not a retiring player as captain. And Ahmed Musa is that player. He is my captain’’, Oliseh said.
When you have a new government like our honourable president just came in, he’s picked his ministers. And you have your philosophy and you have your way of working.
“As a coach I have looked at the team and I have looked at Nigeria going forward. We need a captain who will think of staying with Nigeria for several years to come, who is regularly in the front. And Ahmed Musa did a great job for us in Tanzania under very difficult circumstance. He is a very responsible player and he is the captain of the team. So he is the captain of the team, there is no question of a tussle.
“The fact that I would like to have somebody (as captain) who is thinking of playing now and not somebody who is preparing for retirement or thinking of life after-football. And I think it’s time we had peace and quiet around the Super Eagles.
That is why I am glad that most of the players here are finding ways to work as a team because I get the feeling now that they are aware that they are representing 170 million people’’, Oliseh said on Brila. He explained that the camp was in good mood ahead of today’s match.
‘’The players have shown their desire and we are working on stringing them together. It is unfortunate that the home-based players are yet to be given visas but we are hopeful that they will be here for the second match against Cameroon on Sunday’’
Vincent Enyeama made his debut against Kenya in May 2002 in Lagos and during his international career he helped Nigeria win the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa, where he emerged as the tournament’s best goalkeeper.
Call him a mere shot-stopper, a goal keeper, or an ex-international, Vincent Enyeama will always have that special place in the heart of every football lover in Nigeria, as the man who always gave Lionel Messi problems in goal.