Brown Ideye On Stephen Keshi And Missing The 2014 World Cup

Nearly six years later and Brown Ideye still struggles to conceal his sadness, hurt and anger at being omitted from the 2014 World Cup squad.

The news of his omission from Stephen Keshi’s Brazil bound team when it broke, was a bombshell that left followers of the national team in disbelief.

An integral part of Keshi’s team that conquered Africa at the 2013 Nations Cup in South Africa, Ideye had had a successful season with Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk where he scored 10 goals in 29 appearances making his omission all the more peculiar. 

And none was more confused than Ideye himself who revealed in an Instagram Live interview with Germany-based journalist Oma Akatugba that he was heartbroken at the news and mystified at the choice of players chosen as his replacements. 

“It was sad, I cannot even find the words to use,” Ideye who now plays for Greek side Aris Thessaloniki said.

“It was really heartbreaking and I felt like, not good enough and when you start feeling that way and you see the person that is playing your position and you start asking yourself ‘how?’ there are so many things that didn’t add up.”

Many fans of the national team believed they had a clear idea of how that squad was put together and various theories were advanced.

Dark whispers of horse-trading and salacious tales of players bribing their way into the squad were rife at the time.

Those hushed whispers and tales have threatened to become an avalanche following a slew of revelations from several players who were also omitted from that squad.

Ex-Eagles stars Chinedu ObasiTaye Taiwo and Emmanuel Sarki have recently come forward with stunning allegations of officials demanding financial inducements in return for a place in the national team.

Taiwo, in particular, gave the clearest hint that the late Stephen Keshi might have encouraged a culture of pay-to-play as Super Eagles manager.

And it wouldn’t be the first time such allegations would be levelled at Keshi.

The late coach also faced similar accusations as coach of Togo most notably by ex-Arsenal forward Emmanuel Adebayor at the 2006 AFCON.

And while Keshi is revered by Nigerians for his exploits as a player and coach, the recent allegations have nonetheless resonated with many who have long maintained that certain players selected to represent Nigeria in Brazil made the squad through a less than honest selection process.

Looking back, Ideye said he found it impossible to wrap his head around how certain players were preferred in his stead.

“I watched the friendlies they played before they travelled and I’m like, [is there] something I’m not doing [that made] this man [Keshi] to drop me, or, [do] I start having dreads or braids?” a non-plussed Ideye asked.

And while several of his former Super Eagles teammates have come forward with their stories, the 31-year-old has consistently refused to confirm the suspicions of many that he lost his place in Keshi’s team because he refused to ‘play ball’.

Ideye had previously hinted that his decision to sack his Nigerian agent at the time over a proposed move to the English Premier League may have cost him a place in the squad.

He, however, turned down the chance to tell ESPN his side of events after¬†Daniel Amokachi – Keshi’s assistant at the time – all but confirmed that the 2014 squad was selected on considerations other than football.

“At that point, if I said anything with how angry I was, I would have said something that maybe today I would be paying for it that’s why I said I didn’t want to talk about it then,” the former Xamax forward revealed.

“I haven’t told anyone. Maybe there are rumours ‘Brown did this or Brown said this’ but what really transpired about me being excluded from the World Cup, the only person that knows about it is my [wife].” 

And while the acute sense of pain and betrayal has receded with time, Ideye still feels residual pangs of hurt when he considers what could have been.

Particularly painful for Ideye was the fact he was robbed of the chance of shining on football’s biggest stage in his prime after being a bit-part player at the 2010 Mundial.

The feeling of loss, he said, was akin to being prevented from partaking in a feast to which he had been invited revealing that only remarkable restraint kept him from reacting to his omission in a rash manner.  

“People will feel like ‘e don pass forget am’. Yeah, I’ve forgotten about it but that would have been my second World Cup and I’m going there to play had it been I went to that World Cup.

“It was like someone fixed you a good meal, put everything on the table and ask you to sit down and look at it without eating it. That’s how painful it was.

“I just forced myself to push those things out and focus on my football.

“Yes, I felt really, really, really pained. I felt I should just say something or do something like a large interview and say what I want to say but I just got hold of myself.”

He was able to get over his disappointment eventually and even took a philosophical look at the entire situation after securing a record move to Premier League side West Bromwich Albion that summer.

The former Olympiakos striker noted that none of the players selected for the 2014 World Cup secured transfer moves on the back of the tournament.

“I felt like not going to that World Cup [maybe] God used Keshi to sideline me [so that I could secure a move to West Brom].

“I have thought about everything, at one point, I was pissed but I sat down and said to myself ‘why am I pissed? I just got a record sign-on deal, why am I pissed?’

“At that point, I dropped all the anger, the hate, everything the bad wishes in my heart and everything I just dropped it because I felt like God used the man to make me a well known famous person.

“It was my dream to play in England and I told God every day – me and my [wife] we told God every day that as I am leaving Ukraine I’m going to the EPL.

“Maybe if I had gone to that World Cup, I wouldn’t have made the move. A lot of people who went to that World Cup not one of them got a deal.”

Nigerians waiting to hear the exact details of what exactly transpired in 2014 would have to exercise a bit more patience as Ideye currently has no plans of spilling.

But the striker, who presumably still harbours dreams of donning Nigeria’s white and green again, promised to reveal everything in a tell-all book before he hangs up his boots. 

“Before I retire, I going to write a book and then I’m going to pour everything out,” he revealed.

“A lot of media and journalists wanted me to say something but if I’d said something at that point I would [have said] the wrong thing.

“I would [have said] a lot of things that I can’t take back and I would have become one of Nigeria’s blacklisted footballers because I would say something that I’m not supposed to say.

“I am the only one that know how I felt, only me that felt the pain so when I’m bringing out my book I’ll put everything there.”

Brown Ideye who scored six times for the national team earned the last of his 26 caps for the Super Eagles in a world cup qualifying game against Zambia in Ndola in 2016.