- Emmanuel Amunike recounts how trekked Ijora to Surulere to play football
- It paid off in the end as he was crowned Africa's best footballer in 1994
- Amunike also led Nigeria-17 team to FIFA World Championship in 2015
Emmanuel Amuneke broke into the Super Eagles team in 1994 and he remains one of the best wingers ever produced in the west African country.
The former Barcelona forward won the Africa Cup of Nations and Olympic gold medal with the Nigerian national team in 1994 and 1996 respective.
After hanging his boots as a professional footballer, he ventured into coaching and led the U-17 team to FIFA glory in 2015.
Amuneke also took Tanzania to the 2019 AFCON championship staged in Egypt last summer but crashed out at the group stage.
However, the football icon with a massive record in the history of the game has now opened up on how he started his career.
He told Vangaurd: “I started with a youth team; Osjac, in Mushin. We trained at Ikeja Grammar School in Lagos. At that time, I was a pupil of Cardoso High School, Badia, Apapa.
He continued, “To this day, I still maintain a good relationship with my former teammates at Osjac and my first coach, Raphael.
“Many sacrifices were made as I recall embarking on road walks from Badia, Ijora to the National Stadium (Lagos) and then jog back to the school with my teammates at youth level.
“We did these things because we wanted to fulfill our dreams of playing at the highest level.”
The former Sporting CP of Portugal added: “I also played for the Lagos State U-13 team. The team was coached by Yemi Tella and we represented Lagos State at the National Sports Festival.
“Those days, many footballers were viewed as illiterates and a nuisance in society but I always had the dream to play for the Super Eagles.”
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Amuneke believed that participating in the 1991 African Games contributed to his success.
“My participation at the All Africa Games in 1991 in Cairo also helped in my move to Egypt because it was at that tournament that Zamalek scouts spotted me.
“I thank James Peters (coach of the Nigeria team) for the opportunity because he already had a settled squad before I joined the U-23 team at the time.”
The 49-year-old won the Africa footballer of the year in 1994, and two years later was crowned BBC man of the year.
Legit.ng earlier reported that Austin Okocha became the most expensive player in Africa after his impressive performance at the France 98' World Cup, according to Daniel Amokachi.
The mercurial midfielder earned a move to Paris Saint-Germain after the tournament for a record fee, the highest ever by an African player.
Okocha was Nigeria's best player from the group phase and the round of 16 before losing to Denmark by 4-1 in the quarter-finals.
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