Emma Njoku and Elizabeth Ogunbamowo
Former Abia State governor and Chief Whip of the Nigerian Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu said Africa can produce the next football legend in the mould of Diego Maradona.
Senator Kalu stated this, yesterday, in a live programme on VOA while paying tribute to the late soccer icon who passed on Wednesday. He said with discipline and hard work, upcoming African footballers can become great like the Argentine football legend without emulating his ugly habit of drug addiction.
“As far as I’m concerned, no good player should live on drugs. Maradona was a great player, unfortunately, he later went in to drugs. He made a name for himself and he destroyed it. Young people, especially young players, should keep off drugs,” he stated.
He commended the move by Napoli Football Club to rename their stadium after the football icon who inspired the club to win many silverwares in his hey day.
“I understand that very soon the Napoli stadium would be renamed after Diego Maradona. That’s a very honourable thing to do, and I expect FIFA to look at other ways to immortalise him.”
On whether African can produce a player like Maradona, Kalu replied:
“Yes! Everything is about discipline, once you’re disciplined, you get everything on the table; but once you’re not disciplined, you can’t achieve anything. In Africa, we’re not disciplined enough. We must agree on who we are, once you realise you are not competing with anybody, you can move forward.
“Nigeria can win the World Cup. I did it for Enyimba Football Club when we won the Africa Champions League back to back; and if God helps us and we’re able to finalise our negotiations with Arsenal, my target is to win the UEFA Champions League and the Premier League. Football is a money spinning business if you get it right. Look at Enyimba, we used to have about 15,000 spectators in our stadium back then, but since the right things are no longer being done, nobody goes to the stadium anymore to watch the club today.
“Football is big business, it is an opium that unites the world. Nigeria can produce Diego Maradona if the players are disciplined and face their career with-out losing focus. They should shun bad habits such as womanising, drunkenness and drugs. Once you concentrate on your career, you’d go far,” he stated.