Ex-Nigerian footballers have expressed sadness after they learnt that Atlanta 1996 gold medallist Kingsley Obiekwu has turned to a commercial driver in Enugu.
The retired footballers also called on the Nigeria Football Federation and the government to support footballers, especially those who represented the country, when they are retired.
A Facebook user known simply as Okwuluora posted on his page that he saw the former defender loading and driving a commercial Toyota Sienna minivan at Abakpa Motor Park in Enugu.
Super Eagles captain Ahmed Musa on Wednesday donated N2m to Obiekwu after he saw the post on social media.
The 47-year-old made eight appearances for the Eagles between 1996 and 1999, as well as stints at Go Ahead Eagles, Al Ahli Shabab, Al-Masry and Enugu Rangers at club level.
He also had a shot at coaching but was forced to resort to commercial transportation after being owed N6m cumulatively at the clubs he managed.
“Yes, I am a commercial transporter; there is nothing to hide about it. Man has to do what is legal to pay his family bills,” Obiekwu told the News Agency of Nigeria.
“I have four children at the Enugu State University of Technology and my last child is in primary five.
“I have coached Rangers, IfeanyiUbah, Delta Force, Giant Brila and also Union Sportif Krake in the Republic of Benin. All of them owe me.”
Reacting to the report, Obiekwu’s Atlanta ’96 teammate, Joseph Dosu, said his colleague in such a situation was disheartening.
“It’s very disappointing to hear about my former teammate in such a situation. I thank God it’s not a health-related issue. I’m certain help will come,” Dosu, Nigeria’s first-choice goalkeeper at the Olympics, told The PUNCH.
“I’m also using this opportunity to call on well-meaning Nigerians to come to his aid.”
Ex-Eagles defender Godwin Okpara also lamented Obiekwu’s plight.
“It’s a pity what he’s going through at the moment. Some of our teammates have died from neglect. I believe that when you serve this nation with all your heart, you deserve some sort of compensation like they do in Europe,” Okpara told The PUNCH.
“In Europe, things are well organized; if the NFF can put together insurance for players, it will go a long way when they end their careers.”
Saudi ’89 U-20 World Cup Flying Eagles defender, Mike Onyemachara, added, “It’s very sad to hear about what is happening to him. A lot of us are suffering and I think the federation and the nation should look at extending helping hands to ex-players by engaging them in different capacities.”