Afelokhai eyes goalkeeping swansong in Europe

Afelokhai eyes goalkeeping swansong in Europe

Rivers United  long-serving goalkeeper Theophilus Afelokhai  has established himself as a force to be reckoned with in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) for close to two decades. The Edo-state born goalkeeper who has won multiple titles and awards with top clubs in the NPFL desires to play a professional football abroad before hanging his gloves, reports TAOFEEK BABALOLA.

 

When Afelokhai left Edo State for Kano State for a greener pasture, he does not know what future the holds other than keeping faith with God.

It was a tough experience for a young man who arrived in a city with no relation in his quest to find a place to start his footballing career.

“I had a tough challenge when I was coming up. When I left my state (Edo State) to Kano State in search of a club in Kano without knowing anybody there; I went there with my friends,” Afelokhai said in an interview with NationSport.

He added: “When we got to Kano along with my friends, we met a man called Mr. Luc Lagush, a white man from France, who owned a club called Buffalo Football Club at Badawa Kano State .

“ He allowed us to train with his team and after the first training session, the man picked interest in me and he asked me so many things about myself.

“He asked me to join his team but I told him that I don’t have a place to stay in Kano and I was squatting with someone. He told me I should come and stay with him and he would give me and my friends a comfortable place to stay.

“The club was in the state division then, and from the state division we helped the club until they gained promotion to Pro Division 1.

“My friends later said they can’t continue with the club because the money we were earning was too low. We were earning three thousand naira per month. But I was determined that I won’t quit.

“Few years later, good things started coming for me till present moment. I was patient and God made it possible for me.

“The man has contributed a lot into my career, so also my parent and my wife. They really supported me. When I was coming up my wife was my prayer warrior. I thank God for everything.”

Afelokhai exploits at Buffalo FC attracted the management of Kano Pillars who offered him a deal to join the club. It was at Pillars that fortune smiles at him. He rose to become the team’s captain and team’s highest paid player.

While at Sai Masu Gida, he won multiple league titles and played at CAF Champions League semi-finals.

The 31 years old shots-topper said he found a home in Kano Pillars where he stays for close to ten seasons: “Playing for Kano pillars was a good experience for me because I was welcome like an indigene of the state. They showed me love and care.

“ Coming to the north when I am not a Muslim and I was given the chance to captain the team for so many years as a Christian. It really means a lot to me. I played with all my heart for the club and I contributed a lot to the team.

“ I won the league for them as a captain and I played my part as a leader when I was there. They also played their part. Kano fans showed me love. It is a club I will never forget,” he stressed.

He moved from Kano Pillars to Enyimba International in 2015 where he played for almost five seasons. He won league title with the People’s Elephant as well.

“I thought if I leave Kano Pillars I would never see the kind of love and support I enjoyed in Kano again. But when I joined Enyimba, Aba fans showed me love. The management and their fans are still calling me and advise me up till now. I also played my role when I was with them and won league title at the club. So whenever I found myself I always put in my best.”

At the beginning of 2020/2021 season Afelokhai pitched his tent with Rivers United in a big signing deal, making him one of the best earners in the league. He has eight clean sheets to his credit this season despite injury that ruled him out of action for sometimes.

“This is my first season and the relationship is fantastic. The commissioner for sport Boma Iyaye is a very nice man, he is not just a commissioner but he is a leader. He is always there for the players. The State Governor Nyesom Wike is also a father to us. He is a very nice man. I am here to contribute to the achievement of the club.

“Rivers United deserves a league title. Governor Nyesom Wike has promised us that he will change our lives if we win the league. That is why we have to put everything to achieve it. If a man like that made a promise it would be definitely fulfilled. That is why we (players) need to double our efforts.”

The league veteran savoured both the best and bad moments in his choosing career.

He said: “As a professional and a long-time player, if you didn’t see the good and bad sides of the game that means you have not started. When the good side comes I embraced it and when the bad side comes I also embraced it.

“Anytime I was crowned champions I refer to it as my best moment. Being a champion always give me joy. Also coming out of a game after 90 minutes without injury is another best moment because injury

“Anytime I was not crowned a champion at the end of the season, I refer to it as bad moment. And losing a game is also a sad moment.

Meanwhile despite achieving so much on the ;local scene, Afelokhai wishes to play professional football abroad before calling it quit.

“In life, a man must have a plan for himself. I still belief that I have so many years to play football because right now, I am planning big for myself and for my career,” he offered.

“ I don’t want to end up like this in Nigeria here. My prayer is that I will taste professional football abroad; I know very soon the opportunity will come for me to play for a club abroad.”

Afelokhai was a key part of the national U-23 Dream Team squad to 2011 CAF U-23 Championship as Nigeria failed to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. He was also part of the home-based Super Eagles team to the 2018 African Nations Championship in Morocco.

He has won many league titles with Kano Pillars and Enyimba, including several best goalkeeper awards and has been invited to the Super Eagles camp on many occasions under coach Gernot Rohr.

Source: Sports – Latest Nigeria News, Nigerian Newspapers, Politics

#Afelokhai #eyes #goalkeeping #swansong #Europe

Post views in last 5 minutes: 0 views

DOWNLOAD CORRECTSCORE MOBILE APP (APK)


PREDICT & WIN (N3000)


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply