“Corner-kick”: What qualifies a player as club Legend?

It is so difficult to define what exactly a legend is. It is one of the most overused terms in sports, and is so open to interpretation in a field like football where so much depends on subjectivity.

For instance, we can all agree that, to be a legend, one has to have been a great player. Yet, that is subjective, especially when evaluating different positions. A great striker is easy enough to decide: just look at his goals tally, right? And yet, that does not take into account what his role is in the team—some strikers exist to make space for others rather than to score themselves. If he is performing his assigned function excellently, then he is a great player.

However, to the fan who is not in a position to know what his assigned function from the coach is would not be able to appreciate it. See how complex it can get?

Some players are great, but we feel no real connection to them emotionally, and so we are reluctant to call them legends, especially at club level. Some are not so great, but will regularly beat their chest and kiss the badge and have us throwing roses at them. See?

I happened upon an interesting discussion on Twitter, as a fan insisted that Mfon Udoh is not an Enyimba legend, while Emeka Nwanna is. It was a very enriching discussion, as it got me thinking. It is an interesting example.

Mfon Udoh is, to this day, the highest scoring league player in a single season of Nigerian football. His record of 23, set three seasons ago, stands to this day. He also delivered a record seventh league title for Enyimba, and if that seems like a light thing, this came after a three-year period in which the league was monopolized by Kano Pillars.

That makes him, demonstrably, an Enyimba legend outright.

Emeka Nwanna is, as well, worthy to enter the discussion. The first-ever player in the league to be sold for a million Naira, he was a crucial part of Nigeria’s first-ever CAF Champions League triumph, lifting the coveted trophy with Enyimba in 2003. That also makes him, demonstrably, an Enyimba legend.

Both won laurels with the club, both changed the game in the local scene. So do we have our criteria then?

Not exactly. If this is what counts, then that would mean smaller teams would have no legends. So perhaps we need to tweak that, and accept that success is relative. For some, it is winning, for others, it might be something else.

No disrespect to him at all, but while Femi Thomas also won the league with Mfon Udoh at Enyimba, he cannot be considered a legend. Would Enyimba have won that title with another goalkeeper between the sticks? I believe so, and in fact there were three very good goalkeepers there at the time, rotating starting duties between themselves.

Now, for a club like Plateau United, who win their first-ever title last season, every player who played a crucial part in it is automatically a club legend. That’s because such a success is momentous, never-before-seen.

Same thing goes for the Rangers side that won the title two years ago, breaking a 32-year “jinx”. The weight of that burden lifted, the long wait, the rise of a sleeping giant, makes that title doubly meaningful.

For some clubs that may never aspire to a title triumph, longevity of playing career alone may be enough. For some whose aim is simply to avoid relegation, the scorer of a saving survival goal may even enter the discussion. It is not an exact science, but categorizing legends is certainly a stimulating mental exercise.

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Now that we have an ultramodern stadium…

I am elated by the news of our stadium coming back to us in a brand new state. I used the picture for my laptop wallpaper, a colleague saw it and asked whether it was Stamford Bridge.

We’re looking all professional again. But something tells me that the joy we experience now will soon give way to the status quo. Pardon my pessimism.

I am even tempted to cast and bind the idea the normal Nigerian way. But no. We should talk about this. Really.

For the records, I am a huge supporter of the club, but I speak out when things aren’t in shape and that’s my intention here.

That last time I was at the stadium, I beheld strange sights that should never exist in a modern stadium, nay club of our pedigree and I will highlight a few.

The Restroom debacle:

In the final match of the 2014 season where we hosted Kano Pillars, I noticed we had no known rest rooms for the fans in the various stands.

I saw a visiting fan relieve himself beneath one of the stairs that led to that stand by the right side of the VIP stand.

Taking a tour through the back side of the stands, I saw mounds of dried human shit. Disgusting!

“Now that our stadium is modern”, we need neat rest rooms with working water supply for the fans to relieve themselves at each of the stands.

Ticketing system:

Imagine visiting Stamford Bridge and touts with flaming wraps of marijuana stuck between their two first fingers are selling you sub-standard tickets amidst shoves and chaos. That’s a normal scenario in our stadium during match days.

Now that we have a modern stadium, can we modernize our ticketing system. Let the fans purchase their match tickets online before-hand and bring the evidence to the stadium during match days.

Crowd management

If our stadium is an 18,000 capacity stadium, should we sell tickets to over 20,000 fans? That’s of course not including the ones that came in by knowing the guy at the gate.

We can do better by selling tickets according to the number of empty seats, then provide viewing areas within the stadium when the seats are gone. Then again, there should be proper and accurate accountability for these tickets. It’s about time we really stepped up our game and standardized things.

Sponsorship

It’s really baffling how a club of Enyimba’s status with a constant appearance on the Continent is unable to convince businesses to sign up with the brand. I may not know the efforts going on underneath, but the one thing we all see shows that we have failed in that regards.

Now that our stadium is modern, we need to hire a team of marketing professionals to set the ball rolling. Avenues should be set in motion to generate revenue for the club.

Our online platforms

I like many others, ordered for the club jersey on the online store since 2015, up till this moment that jersey is still AWOL.

Now that our stadium is modern, we need a befitting and working online store to go with it. One that will collect payments and deliver. One that doesn’t go AWOL.

Most pages on our website are still empty. The media team should get to work. If content is their problem. I am available.

See you later. ***Hands MIC over to @EnyimbaEnyi

This blog was written by Mr. Sopuru Egbodo. He is a content creator, web manager and social media guru. Please follow him on twitter via @theSopuruEgbodo

Corner-kick: NPFL Players, Food and your performance.

Let’s talk about something we can all easily relate to. Let’s talk about food.

Birthrights have been sold for it, wars fought over it. It is necessary for survival, it is even more crucial for professional athletes.

I’m no doctor, but I know that, during physical activity, the body needs glucose to function. It gets this by metabolizing what we eat. And if you own an automobile, you know that the type of fuel matters. You cannot power your average salon car or SUV with kerosene. Similarly, heavy duty vehicles, like trucks and tankers, cannot run on petrol.

Where am I going with this? Well, think of us “regular” people as SUVs. Our daily routines and work schedules consist mainly of white-collar stuff. For professional athletes, they perform high-energy bodily functions every single day: they are trucks.

That means that, for them, their fuel ought to be different. Why then do we claim to be running a professional league in Nigeria when there is no oversight regarding how our “professional” players nourish themselves?

You would think our clubs would employ (and use) nutritionists to monitor and draw up meal plans for their players to follow, in order to ensure meals are eaten at the right times, that the right foods for the release of energy are eaten on matchdays. You would be wrong.

Instead, our players eat the same meals, with the same recklessness, as you and I. The same eba, pounded yam, you name it… Wolfed down with huge servings of red meat. Mind, these meals are not necessarily gotten from the most sanitary vendors, oh no. Under trees, in shacks, sitting on benches by a sewage drain. Yes, you know the type. All under the club’s nose, and with their endorsement.

To be fair, this isn’t simply a failing on the part of the clubs. The players themselves are also culpable. As a footballer, your body is your workspace and your toolkit, and you are aware of this. If the club fails in its responsibility to ensure that the player it has purchased for an exorbitant fee gets the proper nutrition to do the job he is being paid an exorbitant amount to do, what should you do about it?

Commonsense would dictate that you get a nutritionist and consult on feeding plans. Many of them complain about how they’re not treated like Cristiano Ronaldo. Well, guess what? Up until this summer, Ronaldo played for the richest club in the world. He still employed and paid a physical therapist from his own pocket, and invested in equipment to aid his fitness and recovery. The man is still going strong at an age where most would have packed up.

Alright then, so you don’t want to spend the huge sums you’re paid as salary for this. Understandable; in Nigeria, money can go very quickly once immediate and extended families open their beaks and cry. Get on the internet then, with those expensive phones you own, and Google ‘meal plans for professional athletes’. Go from there. It really is that simple.

Instead, we have a system such as we do now. Much as we are sympathetic to the plight of the players, they must bear some of the responsibility themselves. It seems both sides instead try to cut costs and shortchange the other. As the pidgin saying goes, “Cunny man die, cunny man bury am”

New Season prayers for the skipper 

Confidence comes from winning matches and silverware and on the basis of that, I think I really am on my way to being a very good football coach. In fact I can see me in my dark suit and red tie addressing the media ahead of a big kickoff…”I think we have a good chance today. We’ve worked hard all week and we want our fans to go home happy today…”! 

That’s fantasy manager Sam addressing virtual BBC media. If you have never played Football Manager game, you should try it out. Even if you can’t afford the $50 for a full game, try the demo. Get on http://www.footballmanager.com. I know I’m advertising for Football Manager, my reward is great in heaven. Amen 

Mfon Udoh is the theme again today with a quote from the independent about the injury that denied him call up to the final CHAN squad. 

“It is tough for me but I thank God for everything. I must admit that I never expected that injury would keep me out for so long. I actually recovered from the one I had in the Eagles’ camp but I got another. I am happy that I have started light training and that very soon I will start serious training with my teammates”. 

“It was not a pleasant experience at all because I have never been injured for this long before. I know that I can still regain my incredible form. It was a shame that injury thwarted my ambition of having a generally good season. I know things will be different for me this coming season”. 

Mfon Udoh has never been to the CHAN and how I personally would have loved him to light up the Continent at a competition such as the CHAN. Some of us who had been spoiled by his exploits in that record breaking season don’t believe there is a better player in that position in the League. 

Maybe I’m kinda clutching onto the straws here but something within me believes Mfon isn’t finished just yet and there’s much more in there. The talent we applauded that season surely had more in the bag, there’s no way he is all finished. Injuries have had their hand in what he had produced in the past few seasons but there is more in there surely. 

Mfon Udoh can pray and hope for an injury free season, yes. He can also rid himself of whatever distractions blighted his output last year. 12 goals seemed a reasonable returns in an NPFL season but we all know that’s only a little fraction of what is possible. He’s not Nigerian League record goal scorer for nothing. 

Back tomorrow, 

‘EnyimbaEnyi