Former Nigeria defender Taribo West has lamented the plight of the country’s ex-footballers, saying they have been abandoned by the Nigeria Football Federation.
Reacting to news on the health condition of former Nigeria captain and coach Christian Chukwu, the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games gold medallist said several other players have been left to their fate after serving their fatherland.
“The whole situation is a shame because it’s not only Christian that’s having health issues. So, how can they answer him when there are many other footballers that have been sick and paralysed and nobody is doing anything about it,” the former AC Milan centre-back said.
“I don’t want to mention names but I have met many of our ex-players who are critically ill but nobody is extending help. So it’s not only Christian, it involves a lot of ex-internationals in other sports in Nigeria.
“I think this is a good time to look into every sport in the nation and find a way to render help to people who have served this country because it’s very painful.
“If we have a concrete system with a vision for its members, then most of the ex-internationals would be given jobs and roles at state and federal levels, as well as at the grassroots level. But we have a situation where the footballer, after serving his nation, is left alone with no other job to do, and the people mock him, calling him broke or poor. This is very sad.”
Asked what the NFF has done to help retired players in their time of distress, Taribo said, “Nothing. The only thing I know they did for ex-players of my own time was to give them jobs as coaches and that was all. Those who were given jobs are Emmanuel Amuneke, Ben Iroha, Austin Eguavoen, Stephen Keshi, Samson Siasia, Daniel Amokachi and a few others. And it was just for a short time. That isn’t enough because everybody cannot be a coach.
“For me, the whole thing is total madness and rubbish. They should go and organise the NFF and put a credible person that can bring about light, sacrifice and help to our system because Nigeria needs progress and people that are not after their own personal interests.”