“If Not For The Injury, I Would Still Be Playing”

Football is known all over the world as “the beautiful game”, however, this round leather object has put frowns on the faces of many players as it has put smiles on others. One thing every great footballer never wants to ever experience is an injury.

Injuries are very common in football due to the nature of the game, as it involves high speed and agility coupled with the fact that is a contact sport. We will be looking at three top Nigerian players that injury ended their football career at their peak.

VICTOR AGALI

INJURY
Victor Agali of Nigeria in Schalke 04 duty

The attacker played for over ten different clubs across the globe. He played for Marseille in 1997, Toulon in 1997-98 with 15 goals in 38 games. Agali later signed for Schalke 04 where he scored 14 goals in all his 54 appearances. The attacker played for Nice in 2004-05 scoring 6 goals for the team. The played for more than four more clubs before his career was ruined by injury at the age of 32.

The injury forced him out of football, Agali said an interview “if not for the injury, I would still be playing”. He said injury is what he would never wish any of his enemies because it is not a good thing to any footballer. “I was doing well until I sustained an injury since then I have not been okay”.

Today, Agali has a very bad knee, which would most likely make mobility very difficult for him when he gets older.

EMMANUEL AMUNIKE

Emmanuel Amunike of Nigeria in Action for Barcelona

The footballer started his earlier career in his country Nigeria. He played 27 times for the national team and scored 9 goals in all his appearances. He has played for many clubs both within and outside the country. Amunike moved to Zamalek playing 71 games with 26 goals after which the attacker signed for Sporting CP where he scored 17 goals in 71 games. The former African Footballer of the Year moved to Spanish giants FC Barcelona in 1996 for a fee of $3.6 million.

He sustained a knee injury that denied him a regular place in the Catalans team and a second consecutive World Cup with the Super Eagles at France ‘98. Amunike played for Spain second Division Albacete, Busan l’Cons of South Korea and Al-Wahdat SC of Jordan. The attacker retired at the age of 34 and became a football scout. He went into full-time coaching and helped Nigeria’s Under-17 to in the FIFA World Cup

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STEPHEN KESHI

Stephen Keshi of Nigeria

During his playing career, Keshi earned 64 caps for the Super Eagles with 9 goals. This made him Nigeria’s second-most capped player at the time of his retirement. He also played club football in five countries, most notably Belgium, France, Cote d’Ivoire. He started with ACB Lagos in 1979 later moved to Cote d’Ivoire where he played for Stage d’Abidjan.

His biggest signing was Anderlecht where he played 99 games and score 18 goals for the team. The late Nigerian coach also played for RC Strasbourg in 1993, he ended his career at Perlis FA in Malaysia in the year 1998 due to a knee injury at the age of 36. The knee injury ruined came just when he was at the peak of his career. He soon took to coaching where he was very successful coaching Togo, Mali, and Nigeria. He emerged as the second.

Daniel Amokachi (The Bull)

Daniel Amokachi of Nigeria in Action for Everton F.C

Amokachi started his career with Ranchers Bees of Nigeria. He played in the 1990 Nations Cup after which he signed for Club Brugge of Belgium. His game developed in Belgium, he scored 35 goals in 81 appearances The Bull later moved to Everton in England for £3,000,000.

He scored 10 goals in 43 appearances in Goodison Park. In July 1996, Amokachi signed for the Turkish side, Besiktas before joining up with the Nigerian U-23 side (known as Dream Team). He played all 6 matches and scored in the final as they became Africa’s first Olympic gold medalist in football with a 3-2 victory against Argentina in the final.

During his time in Brugge, he won the “Best African Player in Belgium” award for two (2) seasons and went into the history books by scoring the first goal in the new UEFA Champions League with his goal against CSKA Moscow in a 1-0 victory on 25th November 1992.

Before the 1998 FIFA World Cup, Amokachi sustained a knee injury the injury made him leave Besiktas in 1999. During his time in Turkey, he won the Chancellor Cup (1997), TSYD Cup (1997), Turkish President Cup (1998) and Turkish Cup (1998) scoring 19 goals in 97 appearances.

He moved to 1860 Munich in Germany and Tranmere Rovers in England but could not pass medical tests. He had stints with US Créteil-Lusitanos in France (2000/2001), Colorado Rapids in the US (2002) and Emirate Club in UAE (2002/2003) before finally retiring from professional football due to injury.

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