By Clement Nwankpa Jr
I have been talking with Joseph Yobo and I can assure Nigerian football faithful that appointing him as Super Eagles assistant coach is one ‘investment’ that will pay off. He will come good. He already has the huge international experience as well as playing under many reputable coaches across the globe. I am aware he is still very much in contact with most of his past coaches, David Moyes etc. He has also been in touch with current Everton helmsman Carlo Anceloti.
Since he was announced as Eagles assistant coach, he has received several calls from across the globe. Everybody is excited. They all want to help and be part of this success story. And you will be amazed to know the quality of global football icons that called this Nigerian football legend. He is in very safe hands.
There is a well-orchestrated scheme to aid and accelerate his development along the line of his new venture. ‘Big Joe’ is passionate about this. He is truly committed to making a success of it. I have known him at close quarters for about two decades, being his publicist for the larger part of his playing career. I know how he is when he is so committed to a project.
He told me yesterday, ‘Clementino Infantino (what he calls me), you know I don’t do half measures. You know when I tell you I’m doing this (going into coaching), I honestly want to be the best possible in it. And I will give it my all”.
We spoke glowingly about his role model (Stephen Keshi). I have always known ‘Big Boss’ is his role model. He modelled his game after Keshi and confessed he directly impacted on his international career. It was Keshi, who, as Bonfrere’s assistant in 2001, handed the captain’s band to Yobo against Namibia in Windhoek in an AFCON Qualifier, same year he made his full international debut. Yobo told me how Keshi constantly drummed it into his ears that he will captain the national team some day. Then with Keshi as head coach, Yobo captained Eagles to AFCON victory in 2013.
He feels excited to be on the lane to putting smiles on the faces of Nigerian football faithful as a coach, just like Keshi. Like Keshi, who won AFCON as captain in 1994 and led Eagles to a debut World Cup outing in 1994, Yobo had also captained Nigeria at the World Cup in 2014.
We have here a guy whose disciplinary records during his playing days are impeccable. Nothing has changed. It’s still the same Yobo, ‘Captain Fantastic’, ‘Mr Dependable’. As a player, he enjoyed his teammates’ respects and confidence. His presence in the dressing room will surely be a plus to the current group.
Note: He is only an assistant coach. The good thing is that he is committed to learning the ropes and taking one step at a time.
But he is not lying down at home in Lagos doing nothing about his development. Some of us are privy to most of the efforts geared towards getting requisite coaching badges. When you don’t see Big Joe here, he is in Europe doing the needful. In the next two weeks, he is off again. And his apprenticeship will be in the big clubs in Europe under reputable managers. This is all well planned out.
Those who know me very well, know what it means when I admit that somebody is intelligent and knowledgeable. I once thought Joe will delve more into administration and politics (we spoke along this line), because he has the intellectual capacity and decorum. Now that he has chosen to go into coaching, these attributes will be useful.
So let’s not be bothered. A process has began in Nigerian football that has all the trappings of a huge success in the long term. Call it a risk…Call it a gamble…Those in the know believe it’s a HUGE INVESTMENT.
Let’s welcome Yobo, the first Nigerian (male footballer) to notch 100 caps, into the world of coaching. He has already excelled as a player and pundit. He should make a success of the new venture.
We, most likely, have, at a rudimentary stage, the next great Nigerian manager and tactician. Save this piece. I have my signature on it. My name is Clement Nwankpa Jr.