Recuperating Wolverhampton Wanderers of England goalkeeper, Carl Onuoha Ikeme has been promised a spot in Nigeria’s squad to this year’s World Cup, with a special jersey set to be reserved for him.
Though Ikeme is in the last phase of his recovery from leukaemia, he has not been cleared by doctors to feature for the Super Eagles in Russia, but he will get a ceremonial spot with the team.
This much has been disclosed by Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr, who stated at the weekend that Ikeme will be part of Nigeria’s squad at the 2018 World Cup, but as the unregistered twenty-fourth player.
Nigeria have included an extra player on their roster in previous editions of the World Cup, as Clemens Westerhof took Tijani Babangida to USA ‘94 and Chief Onigbinde Onigbinde had Peter Osaze Odemwingie at Korea/Japan 2002.
Similar treatment is now set to be handed Ikeme, who played in the second round of the African World Cup qualifiers against Swaziland and was in between the posts when Nigeria beat Zambia away in their first game of the third round.
Rohr said: ”Until the last moment, there is a possibility of bringing in these players. Carl Ikeme will be our 24th player to the World Cup.
”All the time we play in Uyo, we felt at home. We brought the pre-World Cup camp to Uyo, to remind the fans that we started here.”
Balogun Recalls His Childhood In Germany
Brighton & Hove Albion new signing, Leon Aderemi Balogun has shot his mind back to his early days of growing up in Germany and recalls how he braved the odds of living in a mixed race.
Though he admits he saw himself as a German when growing up, the former Fortuna Düsseldorf, Darmstadt and SV Mainz central defender insists he is a true Nigerian.
He attributes his strong connection to Nigeria to his father, Cesar Balogun, who shared African details with him while growing up.
Beyond the colour of his skin, which he inherited from his German mother, the early life of the 29-year-old revolved around Nigeria and Africa.
Though he was not physically linked with his father’s relatives, Balogun recounted that his father ensured that he was surrounded by Africans in Germany.
By the time Balogun had established himself as a professional player, he had fully developed his sentiment for Nigeria and Africa. Yet, he had never been to the continent.
He did not land in his fatherland until the turn of the century, when he was invited to the Eagles, by late coach Stephen Keshi. It was an eventful homecoming and a turning point in his fledgling career.
“There were a lot of mixed-race kids with a German mum and African dad or the other way round and at home we had some traditional African arts.
“My father used to cook Nigerian food. There was some music but that’s about it. But he gave me his African vibes, his mentality and that’s the biggest part of me.
“We met with a lot of friends, but not everyone was from Nigeria. We had friends from Ghana and Sierra Leone.
“When I went to Nigeria for the first time, something stirred inside me. When I first touched down, I was, ”OK, this is Nigeria, I’m here for the first time…finally! I was also proud to be there. People show you a lot of love. It’s always amazing,” he offered.