Onigbinde picks Vincent Enyeama as Nigeria’s all-time best goalkeeper
Former Super Eagles Coach, Adegboye Onigbinde, may have stoked a round of controversy when he picked former national team captain, Vincent Enyeama, as Nigeria’s best goalkeeper in the history of the country’s football.
Nigerian football followers are divided over actually could be rated as the country’s best-ever goalkeeper, with many choosing former Green Eagles’ star, Emmanuel Okala, as the goalkeeper most suited for the accolade. But Onigbinde differs.
Speaking with The Guardian on Tuesday, Onigbinde noted that Nigeria over the years has produced great goalkeepers at different generations, adding, however, that Enyeama stands out because of his outstanding performances in Nigeria and Europe during his career.
He said the erstwhile Lille of France goaltender gave a good account of himself for the Super Eagles and various clubs he played for in Europe, which put him at a time among the top 10 goalkeepers in the world.
Onigbinde added that Enyeama’s performance as a goalkeeper is a clear pointer that Nigeria still has abundant talents waiting to be discovered in football.
“As a coach that has worked with different generations of Super Eagles’ players, I know Nigeria has produced great goalkeepers like Best Ogedengbe, Peter Rufai, Emmanuel Okala, Patrick Okala, Peter Fregene, Wilfred Agbonavbare, Joe Erico, Innua Rigogo, Alloy Agu, Zion Ogunfeyimi and Agwo Nnaji, among others. But I think we should give the best goalkeeper so far in Nigeria to Vincent Enyeama.
“Enyeama stands out from these other goalkeepers because he performed well by being the number six best goalkeeper in Europe in 2016, which automatically made him one of the top keepers in the world at that period.
“His remarkable performance for Enyimba and the Eagles was worthy to be praised.”
Onigbinde recalls that he discovered Enyeama in Ibadan during a game involving Enyimba FC and Julius Berger FC, while preparing for the Korea/Japan 2002 World Cup.
“After watching him for some minutes, I told my assistant, Fanny Amun, that he is Super Eagles number one goalkeeper for the World Cup. He asked if I knew him before and I said no. Since then Enyeama has not disappointed me,” he said.
Enyeama made his debut for the Super Eagles at the Korea/Japan 2002 World Cup in a game against England, which ended goallessly.
Get the latest news delivered straight to your inbox every day of the week. Stay informed with the Guardian’s leading coverage of Nigerian and world news, business, technology and sports.