Former Nigeria striker Emmanuel Emenike has advised young footballers to always aspire to win laurels with the national team because the ‘great deal’ of trophies is often the only thing that makes international careers worthwhile.
The former Fenerbahce and Spartak Moscow forward spear-headed Nigeria’s attack as the Super Eagles claimed a 3rd Africa Cup of Nations title in South Africa, seven years ago, under the tutelage of late Stephen Keshi.
Looking back at the glorious moment, as well as the euphoria, paparazzi and fame that followed it, the 32-year-old, who retired from international football in 2015, said: “Winning (2013) AFCON was a great feeling at that moment, but I didn’t know how big it was till now that I have stopped playing for the national team and seeing the way people appreciate me when I go out there.
“I think winning AFCON is a big thing. So, I advise every young player to always put this in their mind that winning something for Nigeria is a big deal. You won’t understand how big it is until you stop playing for Nigeria. But it is a big, big, big deal – winning something for Nigeria,” Emenike stressed.
Aside from helping Nigeria win the 2013 AFCON, Emenike also emerged as the tournament’s joint-topscorer with 4 goals, a feat he said he never planned for heading to South Africa.
“Being the top scorer is great; it’s good, which is something I did put in my head before going into the tournament,” he said.
“What we had in our head was to win the trophy, but coming out as the top scorer was great. Aside from being the top scorer, winning the tournament, that is, winning those two trophies was a big bonus in my life.”
The former Olympiacos and West Ham striker managed 9 goals in 37 appearances with the Super Eagles before his premature retirement from the national team in 2015 following a 4-year stint.
Emenike is currently a free agent after leaving Belgian side Westerlo in 2019.