Nigerian players often struggle on disciplinary grounds in their respective clubs. This is largely due to the porous setting back home where anything goes on and off the pitch. In sports, especially football, every team has a template of rules and regulations that governs the day-to-day running of the system.
These rules are expected to be respected by all players and officials at all times. It is a taboo to break these rules in top European teams but in Nigeria, the rules could be broken anyhow especially by top influential players. In developed countries, players are well tutored from their tender stage at the academy to respect rules and display high level of discipline.
Sad enough, many Nigerian players fall short in their teams because they do not have the proper orientation. There are many examples to draw from. In 2018, Alex Iwobi, then an Arsenal player was at a drug-fuelled party at 3am, hours ahead of Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest.
Iwobi was videoed screaming and dancing at 2.37am in Soho, central London on Saturday – and the party continued for at least another hour The next day Iwobi played in Arsenal’s dismal 4-2 third round defeat at Championship side Nottingham Forest.
He was rebuffed for his unprofessional conduct. Isaac Success, a highly talented Nigerian player, is almost always in the news for the wrong reasons. He had a sex romp with three ladies in a hotel room two years ago. The news was everywhere about how he drank Baileys and slept off only to wake up and be demanding for the $500 each he gave the three ladies. Watford since then did not take him seriously till date. There was also a case of Etim Esin, one of the most gifted Nigerian players whose career was cut shot due to indiscipline.
Etim sneaked out of the Flying Eagles camp preparing for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 1987 but was unlucky to be shot by robbers on the leg. He did not recover and today, he preaches discipline. And so it was a shock during the week that Napoli of Italy striker, Victor Osimhen, landed in troubled waters over disciplinary issues. Osimhen, still recovering from the injury, was granted permission to travel to Nigeria for the winter break where he attended a party to celebrate his 22nd birthday on December 29.
Sad enough, he forgot all the Napoli rules to open himself up in a very childish and unprofessional manner. On his return to Naples after the birthday bash, Osimhen tested positive for coronavirus and a video of him was all over the social media where he was seen without wearing a face mask and social distance was not observed at the party. This is unfortunate. Osimhen issued an apology to the club and his teammates for his ‘wrong’ decision which has delayed his return to training because of the compulsory two weeks he will spend in isolation. He was in line to make a return to active football on January 3 but his actions changed all of that.
“I am so sorry for what happened, I was wrong to go to Nigeria at this moment, even if I have many loved ones over there, including my brothers,” Osimhen wrote on his Instagram story. His team, Napoli, defeated Cagliari 4-1 that weekend and his coach Gennaro Gattuso said: “He’s a young lad who gives his all in training. He knows he’s made a mistake and he’s apologized. I know how much he wants to get back onto the right track and get back playing.” It is unfortunate that Osimhen who is the most valuable Nigerian player at 62.3 Euros on current form is trending for the wrong reasons. A professional player should always be guided with the rules of his team. During Osimhen’s injury, Napoli recorded amazing results and he will have to fight for his shirt. The current incident will keep the striker out and this is unfair to the club. After the incident, Napoli fined Osimhen and the manager Gattusso vowed that the Nigerian will pay for his actions. It is strange that the Nigeria Football Federation did not react officially on the issue and it is important to stress that other Eagles stars should learn from this sad incident. Nigerians are happy with the goal scoring form of Genk FC’s Paul Onuachu and that is what we want from Osimhen and others not negativity in any form. No doubt, Osimhen has a bright future ahead of him with his immense talent, it is important for him to be humble to attain his full potential in football.