Azubuike Egwuekwe, Warri Wolves and Super Eagles defender who has just signed for Finnish club Kuopion Palloseura in the Veikkausliiga League, has revealed that Warri Wolves did not win the Nigerian Premier League because he and his colleagues played on “empty an stomach”.
Azubuike, a member of the Super Eagles team that won the 2013 African Cup of Nations and the Super Eagles team that played at the FIFA world Cup 2014, stated that he signed for Kuopion because the club showed they were really serious and committed to signing him, in spite of media reports that bigger clubs like Al Ahly of Egypt and Atalanta of Italy also wanted him.
“I am very happy about my signing with Kups FC of Finland. It’s what I have always looked forward to,” Azubuike told The Cable.
“Playing in Europe has always been one of my dreams in this profession. Besides, by 10th of January, 2016, my contract with Warri Wolves will expire and I have no intention of renewing it. By then, I will be a free agent. So, I am happy about the KUPS FC deal.”
He said staying with Warri Wolves was not an option, as his contract was due to expire in a few days: “It is the best decision I have been taken for now, since my contract with Warri Wolves is expiring in few days’ time without renewing it, and because I have also made up my mind not to play in the Nigerian League anymore.”
Reacting to concerns that it would have been better to sign for more recognised clubs such as Al Ahly or Atalanta, who were both interested in him, he said: “KUPS FC is the only club that really showed commitment to signing me. Al Ahly of Egypt, Atalanta of Italy and couple of others just made calls and never followed through or showed the commitment that KUPS FC showed.
“KUPS came to Nigeria to sign me on a one-year deal while I wait for my work permit to be ready before going to Finland by the time their League will start in February or March this year.
“All other clubs never showed serious commitment to signing me. Al Ahly did not come out with any offer for me. They just called me on the phone like the others did, but there was no commitment from them. It was the commitment from the Finland club side that made me sign for them.”
Asked why the much-publicised deal with West Ham Football Club of England earlier in the year did not materialise, he said: “On the West Ham deal, no one told me what actually happened. The agent and the Warri Wolves management never told me exactly what went down with the West Ham deal. I have asked questions but no one has given answers.
“After my trials with West Ham, they told me they needed me. I came home for the Christmas celebration to be with family and when I was about to go back on the 29th of December, 2014, the management of West Ham Fc told me to speak to my club first. That was how I remained here in Nigeria without going to West Ham. Till date, I don’t know what happened or why the deal did not happen. No one is telling me the truth, not the agent nor the Warri Wolves management and not even the NFF.”
Egwuekwe, who has 34 international caps with two goals for the Super Eagles since debuting in 2012, reacted to questions on why Super Eagles Coach Sunday Oliseh had not invited him since assuming the reins/
“I don’t know why coach Oliseh hasn’t invited me to the Super Eagles team since he became the coach,” he said.
“He is the coach and he knows best. But for me, all I want to keep doing is to keep working hard and see I’ll how it goes. Besides, I still got about 14 years more to offer in this profession.”
The captain of Warri Wolves FC, which he joined in 2008 and scored 10 goals for in 72 games, said the team would have won the league last season but it was not motivated.
“Warri Wolves could not win the NPFL because the players played on empty stomach; we played with hunger in our stomach,” he said.
“There was no financial backing or whatsoever from the management to ensure that the players gave their best in the last season.
“Warri Wolves had a team of talented and gifted players that could outclass any club out there but they got no financial backing from the management. So, the team could not give their best. Despite all these shortcomings, the team still came second and are playing in the continental championships.”