While speaking during the unveiling of LaLiga Nigerian office in Lagos at the Radisson Blu Hotel in GRA, Ikeja, former Super Eagles’ winger, Emmanuel Amuneke, revealed that he was denied the opportunity of winning the prestigious World Footballer of the year award because he plied his soccer trade as a Nigerian.
He said; “I usually tell some of my friends that if I had started my football career as a European player, maybe, I would have won the World Footballer of the year award. Unfortunately, I started from Nigeria and only God knows why.”
Amuneke, who was crowned as African Footballer of the year in 1994 after helping Nigeria to win the African Nations Cup trophy at Tunisia ‘94, was bought by La Liga giants, FC Barcelona, for $3.6 million in 1996.
Though Amuneke did not speak much on his ‘missed’ Balon d’Or opportunity, he started that he enjoyed every bit of his playing career in the LaLiga despite the fact that his spell in Catalonia was cut short in the 1997 off-season after he suffered a serious knee injury.
Amuneke played 27 matches for Nigeria, scoring nine goals. He was part of Super Eagles team to USA ’94 World Cup, and scored against Bulgaria in the 3–0 group stage win and against Italy 1–2 round-of-16 defeat.
The former international footballer also highlighted the various projects LaLiga had undertaken since it was launched in Abuja in 2016, in a signed partnership with Legacy Sports, and designed to bring LaLiga closer to its Nigerian fans, and to generate more awareness around the other clubs in LaLiga.
Three former Super Eagles stars, who played in the LaLiga, Amuneke, Finidi George and Mutiu Adepoju, were present at the ceremony.