“I never thought of being nominated let alone being named the Coach of the Year in Nigeria, the first time I will be receiving such an award. I am overwhelmed and thankful to those who thought me good enough to be so honoured, God will honour them”.
Those were the words of Super Eagles Head Coach, Stephen Okechukwu Keshi while reacting to being named the Coach of the Year at the Nigerian Sports Awards, which held at the prestigious Muson Centre in Lagos, Tuesday night amidst pomp. He was unavoidably absent at the occasion.
“I am happy that there are some people out there who are taking note of our little contribution to Nigerian football and thought it wise to give awards. The award will give me more energy, zeal and determination to do more for football in Nigeria at the highest level”, he said.
Keshi then took time off to list those he thinks have been instrumental to the national team’s success since he took over. “I must give honour to whom it’s due, my employers the NFF have been very supportive of my programmes, I thank them for that, the coaching crew and other staff I have worked with, the players who have been totally committed, fans of the game who have been more than supportive and more importantly God Almighty, without whom nothing could have been achieved.
The coach also said he was not shocked that Alhaji Aminu Maigari, the NFF President emerged the Sports Personality of the Year. “He has been an inspiration to football management in all spheres”, he said.
He congratulated Victor Moses, who emerged the Footballer of the Year and John Mikel Obi who was named the Sports Person of the Year, for their outstanding qualities. For Moses, Keshi has this to say; “he is a telented youngster and has been giving his total commitment when he comes to play for Nigeria, but I believe that he has only given us 80 per cent, we hope he will give 100 per cent at the World Cup. He is still young but he can do better for the Super Eagles.
“For Mikel, I am happy that gradually the world is recognising his talents which he has been showing anytime he plays in the national team. I salute him and I am proud of his achievement but must also say it’s just the beginning of greater things to come for all the players in the national team.”