Former Flying Eagles striker Eddy Dombraye has spoken out about the apparent lack of interest by upcoming Nigerian footballers to play in the domestic league, stating that the reverse was the case in his playing days.
An integral member of Nigeria’s U-20 side at the 1999 World Youth Championship which the country hosted, Dombraye caught his teeth at Bendel Insurance and Iwuanyanwu Nationale (now Heartland) in the 90s before his sojourn to Poland, Serbia and Ukraine, where he featured for several clubs prior to retirement.
The 40-year-old UEFA-Licensed coach noted with disappointment that younger players are now in a hurry to play abroad instead of first garnering experience in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).
“In the 90s, we all dreamt of playing in the (Nigerian) league, not personally going to Europe,” recalls, Dombraye in an interview with Channels TV from his base in Ukraine.
“We looked up to players like Etim Esin, those big names. We want to play in those big clubs like Rangers, Iwuanyanwu (now Heartland) and all those clubs. It was not like we wanted to go to Europe, we were enjoying it (in Nigeria) then.”
He added: “The grassroots football was okay because lots of players were being produced from the grassroots. But now, I guess it is a bit different, a lot more different.
“Now players don’t even want to play in the local league. You see a 17-year-old boy wants to go to Europe. You need to go through a process before you go to Europe, you don’t just go to Europe.
“Yeah, like I see most of them in Poland, in Ukraine here, young boys who came as footballers, but are now wandering the streets,” Dombraye disclosed.
However, Dombraye also faulted the structure of the domestic league, adding that the poor welfare system does not allow the growth of youngsters.
Asked whether he would advise any player to remain in the local league, he said: “It depends on how good the player is, you know.
“The system doesn’t allow the players to really grow now, because you don’t pay wages of players for six, seven months. So, how do you expect a young player to aspire to be in that team? He wouldn’t.”