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I decided to play football so as to make money for my mum –Silas Nwankwo

Nigeria Professional Football League joint highest goal scorer in the just concluded league season, Silas Nwankwo, in this interview with CHARLES OGUNDIYA revealed his ambition of playing for

How does it feel coming out as the top scorer of the league at the end of the season?

Very good, I feel very great coming out as the top scorer. As a very young player among the experienced players in Nigerian league coming out as the best I feel very great, there’s no better feeling in this world than the way I am feeling at the moment.

There was still a record of 23 goals do you feel you would have surpassed that record in the concluded NPFL season?

Everybody sets their records, the records are meant to be broken. At a time, I was very focused on breaking the record of 23 goals, but it didn’t happen, but my personal record, coming out as the highest goal scorer in my second season in Nigeria Professional Football League, is a great one for me.

Despite coming top on the goal chart, your club, Nasarawa United, failed to pick any continental ticket, would you say you are disappointed?

If you were in Benin (during the AITEO Cup final), you would have seen disappointment written all over my face. I cried a lot after that game against Bayelsa United, because that would have given us a continental ticket. I didn’t cry because I lost that penalty, but because I believed so much that with everything we put into the season we should have done something better, we might have even emerged as the winners of the league but we lost that, we couldn’t even get a continental ticket, it was very bad; I wasn’t myself for days, you can see since that time I have not been coming out and I just recently kicked a ball with the NPFL All Stars team in Lagos.

What lesson(s) have you learnt as an individual from what happened in this just concluded season?

According to my father, he’ll say when a man does not fall he will not stand stronger, it felt like I fell a little, forgetting the achievement, the personal achievement as the top scorer because it didn’t help my team to any achievement, I mean trophy wise, but I am back stronger; it taught me to be strong always.

Definitely with this achievement, clubs will be on your neck, both within and outside the country, will Silas still stay with Nasarawa or…

That’s a technical question, I will say let’s keep our fingers crossed, the world will get to know soon.

How did you come into football?

I started playing football as a kid, kicking ball along the streets in our area, before you knew it, somebody came up to me and said ‘you are good, let me buy you a boot.’ I started playing with boys club and later an Academy in Lagos, Royal Academy, the season I played in the Royal academy, I think I registered between five and six goals in the Lagos FA Cup. After that, Crown FC of Ogbomosho scouted me and that was how I joined the Nigeria National League side. From Crown I moved straight to Sunshine Stars in the NPFL and later to Nasarawa United, meaning in three seasons, I have been able to play for three different clubs.

Why the constant movement and when do we see you staying in a club for two to three seasons?

It is not that I want to start moving from one club to another, it was just mere coincidence. When I played for Crown, I played a match against Sunshine, home and away, I scored against them and they decided to come for me. Crown is a good team, but they are playing in the NNL, but as a young player, you want to always go higher, and that was why I teamed up with Sunshine Stars, a club in the top division. However when I got to Sunshine, I didn’t get so many opportunities, I had to move to where I think I could get chances and that was Nassarawa United. I was welcomed, I was loved, the fans, the management and all my team mates showed me love and that resulted in my performance on the pitch, scoring so many goals for the club. When you are loved at a place, you will surely deliver and that was what I did in the just concluded season.

When you decided to pick football as a profession, what was your parents’ reaction to your choice of career?

Did you get their support? My dad did not support me because he wanted me to be a doctor or a lawyer, but mum said whatever you want to do that will bring us money, do, so I followed mum’s advice. I went into football, now I am here trying to make money for mum to be happy and for dad to see why football is the best thing that has happened to me.

Has dad finally accepted now?

He is happy, he has been seeing me on television, reading about me in the newspapers and also hearing people talking about me in various news outlets.

What does the future hold for you? As a footballer what are your targets?

I want to play for the best clubs in the world; I like Manchester United so much I want to play for them.

How do you relax if you are not playing football or training?

I listen to music, I listen to Phyno a lot, he gives me joy anytime I listen to him. I also sleep, I don’t get close to books that much because I am not a book type, I just listen to my songs and all that, that’s how I relax.

So if you had not been a footballer, what would you have done?

I have to be frank with you, I wouldn’t have done anything apart from being a footballer.

Who will you say is your role model as a footballer?

I will pick Cristiano Ronaldo anytime, any day; I love the way he plays and also his personality as a footballer.

You earlier stated that you will love to play for Manchester United and your role model, Ronaldo, just returned to Old Trafford, what will you say about this?

When I heard that news, I was happy. Ronaldo is a Manchester United legend and it is just good seeing him back in England with the club. I can’t wait to see the fans reaction when he steps on the pitch after the international break.

Do you go through any ritual before and after game?

I pray as a Christian, then listen to songs just to ease the tension before a game. After every game, I try to rest, reflect on the game, my performance and try to look at the errors and correct them in the next training.

If you are to pick, which game was your toughest last time out?

I will surely pick the game against Kano Pillars at home, it was a tough battle in that game.

As a striker, which defender will you pick as the toughest you have played against?

They are all tough, I will have to do recaps of all my games to figure out which was the toughest, but the job of every defender is to stop a striker from scoring goals while the striker will have to do his best to get the ball into the net.

What will be the highlight of your career thus far?

That was the day I scored hat-trick against Abia Warriors. I was very happy to be among the players to score a hat-trick.

Do you have any disappointment so far as a player?

They are many but the two biggest are: I was so sad and disappointed I was not included in the list of players who went for the friendly against Mexico even though I was the leading scorer in the league at that time. Secondly, I was unable to win anything with Nasarawa United this season, we lost out on the league and I also missed a penalty in the Aiteo Cup final, it was a big disappointment for me.

If you have the opportunity to change something(s) about the Nigerian league, what will that be?

I think that will be the traveling from one centre to another, it is killing, I think that should be looked into by the league organisers.

 

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