“Credibility Is Key To Boosting Private Sector Investment In Nigerian Football” – Mutiu Adepoju

By Ikenga Chronicles September 24, 2016

Ex-Nigerian international football player Mutiu Adepoju is a household name among football fans in Africa. Famed for scoring with his head, the attacking midfielder’s career spans stints in Real Madrid B, Racing Santander, Shooting Stars, Real Sociedad, among others.

Mutiu Adepoju, currently the La Liga country manager for Nigeria, is overseeing the partnership between the popular league, and the Nigeria Premier League, with the view of building a symbiotic relationship that will ultimately see to a massive improvement in Nigerian football.

The ever busy man, Mutiu Adepoju made out time for this interview with Ikenga Chronicles, and here he speaks on the key ingredient necessary to boost private sector investment in Nigerian clubs, the La Liga partnership, his most memorable goals for Nigeria, the recipe for a great future for Nigerian football, the so-called housing gift to the 1994 Super Eagles that conquered Africa, amongst others.

Excerpts.

 

IC: Thank you so much for making out time to talk to us.

Adepoju: It is my pleasure.

IC: Let us start with a less complicated one. How did you get the name “Headmaster”

http://news.bbc.co.uk/olmedia/1570000/images/_1573644_adepoju300.jpg

                                             (Adepoju’s goal against Spain at the 1998 World Cup)

Adepoju: (laughs) Well, it was from my ability to score goals with my head. It was Mumini Alao of Complete Sports that gave me the name.

IC: And in your days, Nigerian football was really great. What do we need to do to ensure that the future of our football is guaranteed?

Image result for nigeria squad against spain 98

Adepoju: First of all, we need to work on youth development. We really do not work on our youths. Most of them start playing when they are 14,15-17 years of age, when they were supposed to have begun at about 8years or even lower. The development of our young players is therefore very important.

Also, consistency is key. We lack that a lot. Then we need to improve on the quality of our local league. Thankfully, we have begun to do the later.

IC: Do you think ex-internationals have a role to play in this? I mean in the development of our football.

Image result for mutiu adepoju

Adepoju: Yes, I believe we have roles to play. The key thing is to believe in our ex-internationals, and let them help in whatever capacity they are good at. Again, when something is promised to players who have done this country proud, it should be given to them.

 

IC: Which reminds me, in 1994, after you guys won the nations cup, the then government of General Sanni Abacha promised the squad houses, were they ever given?

Image result for super eagles 94

Adepoju: I was given a piece of paper that says that I have a house somewhere. I don’t know where the house is!

 (General laughter)

IC: It is perhaps important to take football away from government sponsorship, and source for private investors. Do you agree with this, and how can we attract investors?

Adepoju: I think private sector investment is important. The  League Management Company(LMC) of Nigeria is doing everything possible. For instance, the partnership with La Liga is one of the key things they have done to boost the quality of the league, and bring in other investors. But what is very important is credibility. Clubs need to have credibility, in order for investors to be confident enough to invest in them.

But for now, there is the La Liga partnership, the one with Star, and more will come. It is important too that everyone gives their support.

IC: Talking about the La Liga partnership, you are the country manager of La Liga here. What is it all about?

Image result for mutiu adepoju

Adepoju: The partnership with La Liga is mutually beneficial. La Liga wants to expand its reach, and the Nigeria Premier League needs the technical and commercial support. So basically, the partnership is commercial and technical. La Liga is providing capacity building for clubs; there was a seminar in Spain on that not too long ago.

IC: A lot of people see you as a very disciplined player. How well can you transpose this discipline as a player to your new job?

Adepoju: In this life, you have to be disciplined—I Iearnt that from my parents. I maintain that sense of discipline in every aspect of my life, because it is important.

IC: As a player, what would you consider to be your most memorable goal for Nigeria?

Adepoju: There are quite a few to choose from! But I will say the goal against Spain in France ’98, and of course the two goals against USA in Saudi ’89.

IC: As an ex-footballer, how does it feel being the father of a pro-basketball player?

Adepoju: How did you know that?

IC: It is my job to know sir.

(General laughter)

Adepoju: I am very very okay with that. I and my wife are, really. We actually enrolled them! We have four girls and they all play basketball. I and my wife believe that sports is life, so we support them. One of them– Lade– plays for Iowa Community College in the US.

IC: Thank you so much for having us sir, but before we go, some predictions. Who do you think will win the British Premier League and UEFA champions league?

Adepoju: I will rather prefer to predict the La Liga!

IC: Okay, the La Liga and the UEFA champions league.

Adepoju: The La Liga will be between Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. But I will not tip anyone so as not to show who I support! (laughs).

For the UEFA champions league, it is really difficult because it involves teams from different countries. Really difficult to predict. But I think Manchester City can go very far. They are playing good football. However, either Real Madrid or Barcelona will win it.

IC: Thank you so much for making out time to talk to us.

Adepoju: You are welcome.

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