Enyeama: knocking on Yobo's door

Thursday 22 January 2015

/ by Colin Udoh
Enyeama, the next centurion

It wasn't so long ago that Joseph Yobo made history as the first Nigerian player to hit a century of international appearances for Nigeria.

The defender's historic representation came in his final game for Nigeria at the 2014 World Cup. Sadly, it was not to be a happy ending for the team captain as the Super Eagles lost 0-2 to France and were eliminated.

Looking on, and just five appearances behind, was his deputy Vincent Enyeama, who inherited the armband after Yobo called time on what has been a colourful career.

The goalkeeper is now just one game away from also joining that rarefied posse. And Nigeria's international friendly during the March window will provide the perfect platform, if not symmetry.

Enyeama made his debut back in 2002 in a friendly game against Kenya in Lagos prior to the 2002 World Cup. And it should be fitting that he hits his century in a friendly. 

But it was at the tournament proper in Korea/Japan soon after that he made his bones. 

Surprisingly thrown into the thick of action in Nigeria's final group game against England when he was named as starting keeper by Adegboyega Onigbinde, the move left many stunned.

Any other young keeper would have been awed by the occasion, but not Enyeama.

Such was his talent and composure that he produced one of the saves of that tournament: a sinewy, full stretch dive to turn away a ferocious, rasping drive from England's Paul Scholes.

A star was born.

Nearly 13 years later, a garland of medals around his neck. that star still shines bright. Not without his share of tribulations, admittedly. But that is for later.

We're it not for his missing the first two 2015 Nations Cup qualifying games for family reasons, and Nigeria's failure to make the tournament, that century would have been in the bag much earlier.

Spilt. Milk.

For now, when March rolls around, we should all rise up and honour a man who could well go on to hit 120.

If he chooses.

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