Sunshine Stars and Super Eagles goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa is Nigeria’s first-choice goalkeeper at the African Nations Championship. He has played four times for the Super Eagles but in the league he is indeed a veteran. From joining Ocean Boys in season 2006-2008, featuring in 56 games, he has been very consistent and reliable.
He moved to Heartland in season 2008 and stayed till 2011, playing 61 times before Sharks FC snatched him. Sunshine FC, his present club, came calling in 2014, and after consistent performances in 38 games and fantastic national team experiences, Ikechukwu is now one of the most reliable stars around.
Born in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state on October 16,1988, Ezenwa is no rookie at international level, as he was in Samson Siasia’s team that lost the Olympic games gold medal to Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina at the Beijing Games. He’s had glorious moments, too, with the Nigerian U20 and U23 teams.
Here, he shares those moments as he looks into the future, including crucial must-win AFCON 2017 qualification games against Egypt and working under the supervision of ex-goalkeeper Aloy Agu, whom he describes as “a man of God” and someone he wants to emulate.
It makes me feel very happy as one of the goalkeepers of the national team. Out of 170 or 180 million Nigerians, I will say it’s a privilege. And I feel happy and honoured to be one among millions to wear the Nigeria colour.
LEARNING FROM THE BEST
It has been a great experience. Working under coach Alloy Agu. He is a great man. In the history of Nigeria goalkeepers, he is among those that played for Nigeria with all his heart, and he has been imparting his experience as a goalkeeper in us. So, it’s a privilege to have someone like him as my trainer because I am learning very well and lot from him. Aside the goalkeeping, he is a man of God one needs to adapt to. I will want to emulate him because he is a great man.
GLORIOUS MOMENTS WITH OCEAN BOYS
Ocean Boys is a club I will never forget because that is where my exposure from the national team started. My first club I played with. My first club I won the Nigeria League with. My first club I won the FA Cup with. And also the club I won the Super Cup with. It is something I will never ever forget despite that they are no more. I will always recall my memories with the Ocean Boys.
CONSOLIDATING WITH SHARKS FC
When you talk about Sharks, Sharks is a good team. It’s a team I feel at home with. Because Ocean Boys was in Bayelsa state. Sharks in Port Harcourt and I was born and brought up in Port Harcourt. So, I think playing there was a good experience for me before leaving for Sunshine.
WORLD CUP ADVENTURES
Playing in the U20 World Cup in 2007 was a good one for me. When you are putting on the Nigerian jersey, it’s different from when you are playing for your club because you know that you are carrying the hearts of the country. Trying to make everybody proud. And I also trying to make my family proud too. I think it’s a thing of joy. And I thank God for his favour during the competition, at least to make me do my best.
COMPETING LIONEL MESSI AND CO
It was a great experience. It’s a tournament that I will never forget. It’s a tournament that paraded top stars in the World. The likes of Ronaldinho, Messi, Riquelme and other superstars. So, playing in such tournament was a great one for me, especially some of the Stadia I played in, in Beijing. It was my first time playing in such a stadium. I think being an Olympics Silver medalist is a thing of joy and pride for me.
FIGHT TO FINNISH VS EGYPT
Yes! Because the whole players know the task ahead of us. Come March, it’s a big game against Egypt, home and away. But I think we are going to qualify because the squad we have now, everybody is ready to deliver. And above all, I think God’s favour is around us and I think it’s going to come to pass by the special grace of God.