Augustine Eguavoen was a piece of what many accept was the brilliant age of Nigerian football. The crew of players which included celebrated names like Austin ‘Jay’ Okocha, Stephen Keshi, and Daniel Amokachi. Nigeria won the Africa Cup of Nations in 1994 and qualified for the World Cup just because Eguavoen talked with Sammy Wejinya of SPN Africa when he eased the absolute most vital snapshots of his vocation.
Who found you?
It is difficult to state on the off chance that anybody found me and I will clarify. I never preferred football, I was an Olympic style sports master with my claim to fame being the 100 and 200 meters occasions and I did this from my days in essential. At that point my Dad was moved to Benin City in view of his position AT and T, Sapele and afterwards the relationship with a football commenced.
Bendel Insurance had recently won the FA Cup (residential Cup rivalry in Nigeria) by beating Enugu Rangers 3-0 and the applause for the group was to such an extent. The gathering for the group was something different and I continued considering what the monstrous festivals were about. Individuals went similarly as Oluku (a town around 15 kilometres from Benin) to sit tight for the successful Insurance group and I was astounded and chosen to check out football. I was tremendously interested.
How powerful was your sibling, Monday Eguavoen in your football advancement?
He was persuasive in such manner. I used to go with him to Idia College to play volleyball and ball. Monday likewise played for the Nigeria national football crew. I review that one day, while I was as yet a youngster, I went to the preparation ground of Marathon Youth football club, exceptionally near where we lived.
I went there and met two respectable men, Christopher Erarho and Sunday Enobhakre that I needed to join the group. They concurred and that was the manner by which my excursion into the universe of football started in 1978. I chose to do this in light of what Insurance had done that year in the FA Cup. Ten years after this, I was with the Nigeria national group in Morocco speaking to my nation at the Africa Cup of Nations. So I think the ability to play football at the most elevated level was consistently in me. You talk so affectionately about Bendel Insurance.
Did you ever get an opportunity to play for the club?
I was approached to want a screening with the club in September 1984 when they were being trained by Alabi Aisien. I was in my last year at Edokpolor Grammar school in those days however the club didn’t sign me. They marked (previous Nigeria universal), Friday Elahor, Monday Kanu, Roland Ewere, Kenneth Aigbe, Austine Igbinadolor and Ikponmwonsa Omoregie.
I at that point left for NNPC close by some different colleagues like Austine Inyama where I was agreed upon. I played in the state group with NNPC and in all honesty, my exhibitions with NNPC saw Insurance returning to attempt to sign me. To get this going they chose to expand my compensation from one hundred and twenty nairas which I was procuring at NNPC to 300 and fifty nairas. I went through one year (1985) at Insurance before joining ACB in 1986.
What were your features at the ACB club?
I was welcome to play for Nigeria’s under the 20s, the Flying Eagles during my time at ACB. I was skipper of the Flying Eagles. We played many benevolent games at that point. Two of those well-disposed games were against a Belgian club, KAA Gent in Kano and Lagos. We dominated the two matches against them yet they checked out me and another of my colleagues, Etim Esin.
They inquired as to whether I was keen on approaching Belgium and I answered in the agreed. (Previous Chairman of the Nigerian Football Association, and Minister of Sports, Air Commodore Anthony) Ikhazobor and (Flying birds mentor, Christopher) Udemezue kicked against the move on the grounds that the U20 World Cup qualifiers were going to initiate however my psyche was at that point made up. That was the way I joined Gent in 1986.
Was the progress from playing expertly in Nigeria to playing in a top European group simple?
No, it wasn’t troublesome. Everybody at Gent caused me to feel good and welcome so I was exceptionally loose. The climate (winter) was somewhat troublesome yet I realized I needed to adapt. My better half, Victoria, was at Unilag at that point yet Gent made game plans to bring her over to Belgium and enlisted her in a school in the nation. That settled me a great deal. You went through around ten years in Spain as an expert footballer yet did a change to play for the Galicia club, Ourense somewhere in the range of 1994 and 1995.
What were the purposes of that choice?
I was around 21 years of age when I went to Belgium and a couple of years after the fact, my Father kicked the bucket. This was incredibly hard for me as I was very near him. My structure plunged and the mentor of Gent had no choice however to exchange me to K.V. Kortrijk. In the middle of my stretch at K.V. Kortrijk, I additionally played for Ourense.
Is it genuine that you marked to play for a club in England?
This is valid. Severally, Kevin Keegan came to Belgium to watch me play while I was still at Gent. I got an opportunity to play for West Bromwich Albion and I travelled to Birmingham to finish the move. The club was overseen by Keith Burkinshaw at that point. Despite the fact that I finished the work for the club, I never played a serious game for the club. This was on the grounds that I had been suspended for a half year in Belgium in the wake of dropping out with an arbitrator so my International Transfer Certificate was retained.
My work license additionally never came through accordingly. This was in 1993 and I got a call from (previous Super Eagles mentor, Clemens) Westerhof requesting that I return home as we were planning for the Africa Cup of Nations and World Cup qualifiers. Westerhof advised me to remain with the national group, train with them and furthermore partake in well-disposed games. I additionally played in serious counterparts for the national group during that period in light of the fact that the mentor put stock in my capacity.
I was fortunate in such a case that it was a mentor that didn’t confide in my capacity, I may never have had the chance to go to the Nations Cup and the World Cup. Westerhof is viewed by numerous individuals as Nigeria’s best-ever national group mentor. You worked with him.
Exactly how unique right?
He was an excellent mentor. Extraordinary man administrator too. He likewise had a talent for foreseeing how games would end in those days. He will let us know in the changing area before a major event that we will win 3-0 or 4-0 and we will win by a similar score he anticipated! He likewise had an extraordinary group of aides with Bonfrere Johannes, Christian Chukwu and Bitrus Bewerang.
Enlighten us concerning your national group debut in 1987. Paul Hamilton was the National group mentor at that point and Sierra Leone were the adversaries at the National Stadium in Lagos. I came in as a substitute for Waidi Akanni in midfield and we dominated the match 3-0.
You played in three Africa Cup of Nations competitions. What recollections do you have of those rivalries?
I was in Morocco in 1988. I was unable to go to Algeria in 1990 in light of the fact that I was simply coming back from a genuine physical issue and was never going to be at a hundred per cent. I return in 1992 and 1994. I didn’t play in more AFCONs as a result of what occurred in 1996 and 1998.
We didn’t win in 1992 as a result of a little slip-up. Abedi Pele of Ghana scored a brilliant objective after we had scored early and Ghana developed in height and certainty and that was that. In 1988, we were ridiculously near (winning the title). We scored what I accept right up ’til the present time was a decent objective however out of the blue, it was denied.
What’s more, for their lone objective, the precarious Roger Milla went in the middle of Sunday Eboigbe and Stephen Keshi. Eboigbe says he didn’t contact Milla who went down in the crate for the punishment. In 1994, we were fortunate too in light of the fact that the Zambians scored first in the last and were pursuing the game.
What made that Nigeria group of 1994 so unique?
There was an uncommon bond in that group of 1994 as we were all similar to siblings. It was one major glad family and that was our greatest weapon. Soon thereafter (1994), Nigeria made her World Cup debut in the United States.
What recollections do you take from that competition?
Great recollections. Upon appearance, we were invited by the Nigerian people group in Dallas. I despise everything review that the changing area (at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas where Nigeria confronted Bulgaria in her initial game) was the greatest I’d at any point found in my life.
Presently, when we saw while in the passage preliminary to going onto the pitch that the Bulgarians were frightened of us! It was clear from their non-verbal communication and that gave us the certainty to go out and beat them 3-0. We likewise had a touch of karma as (Hristo) Stoichkov’s objective was denied right off the bat in the main half. Presently how about we talk about the game against Argentina.
How was it confronting Diego Maradona just because?
Viewing Maradona on Television and playing against him in the substance are two unique things! I will be straightforward at this point. For me, confronting Maradona was a fantasy worked out as expected in light of the fact that he is a legend. Be that as it may, when the game began, all the regard flew out of the window since it was a round of football and the centre was to win independently of your rival. You were generally accused of yielding the punishment that prompted Italy’s victor in the round of 16…. (Interposes) And I imagine that is extremely unreasonable.
Numerous Nigerians accepted that in the event that we had crushed Italy, we could have gone right to win that World Cup. There was a bit of miscommunication amid Chidi Nwanu and myself and that provoked (the permission of the) punishment. What’s more, the foul was not conscious in light of the fact that (Antonio) Benarrivo foreseen the contact and hung tight for me to jump into him. I had my eyes ready and was not hoping to foul him. You played only one game at the 1998 World Cup versus Paraguay in the gathering stages.
Do you figure you ought to have had more minutes in France?
Nigeria had won the Gold award in the football occasion at the Olympics in 1996 and Bora (Milutinovic, Nigeria’s mentor in 1998) selected to go more with the fellows that won in Atlanta. I was not at the Olympics in 1996 so I didn’t represent more than one game in France. I regard the mentor’s choice however in light of the fact that it didn’t care for the fellows who were chosen to begin most of the games in France did too seriously. In any case, perhaps, I would have played more games on the off chance that we had another mentor in France.
Nigeria was tipped by numerous individuals to have an extraordinary World Cup in 1998 however that didn’t occur. Why?
The 1998 World Cup was a debacle for Nigeria. Bora’s administration style was a calamity for Nigeria. How would you mean? I am not saying he is a terrible mentor yet his style of the board wasn’t the best for Nigeria. Bora is an awesome mentor however his style of the board was not only for us. The holding (among players) was non-existent on the grounds that players were staying independently as opposed to two by two in their rooms.
The main time the players got the opportunity to associate was during preparing, matches and supper times. That is anything but a decent method to oversee players. It might have worked with the past nations he had trained however it was never going to work with the Nigeria national group around then. There was not kidding division in that group. Denmark beat Nigeria 4 goals to 1 in the 16th round.
What did Bora say to the players at half time?
There was outright bedlam in the changing area and I made some noise and conversing with the players. I advised them to guarantee that Austine Okocha was given the ball at each open door since he was our most perilous player in that game. The players who went out in the subsequent half appeared to hear me out in light of the fact that Okocha got takes a break we got the show on the road.
Okocha marked for PSG thereafter. There were things that occurred at that World Cup with our group that ought to never have been permitted to occur.
Things like what?
A portion of the players were visiting night clubs in the warmth of the competition. I review this occurred after the game against Bulgaria (which Nigeria won 1-0 to book a spot in the Round of 16 with a game to save).
They did this in Limousines and returned the morning after to prepare. This occurred at any rate twice, while the World Cup was on. There was no influence over that group and that is the reason I utilized the word, debacle. Do you think things like these could never have occurred if Westerhof had still been in control? (Indeed, it is) conceivable (such things could never have occurred if Westerhof had been in control) or if Bonfrere had proceeded. Much obliged to you for your time, Augustine.
You are welcome.