Gabriel Ezema won the NPFL title and Federation Cup as an assistant coach with Rangers and is currently keeping busy nurturing the next generation of Nigerian football stars but says he wants a shot at managing a team in Nigeria’s topflight.
Young but hugely experienced, Ezema was an integral part of Imama Amapakabo’s backroom staff that brought the NPFL title back to the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium in 2016, ending a 32-year drought while playing some of the most exhilarating football in Nigerian topflight history.
He was also there with Gbenga Ogunbote as Rangers ended an even longer dry spell in the Federation Cup with a stunning comeback that saw them claw back three goals with fifteen minutes left to defeat Kano Pillars on penalties in Asaba in 2018.
After five years with the Flying Antelopes, Ezema has now deployed his considerable talents to moulding raw talent at the Ijebu Ode-based Stars Builder Academy.
It’s a different kind of environment to what he is used to but the LaLiga-trained coach says while he believes he is ripe for a job in the topflight, working with youngsters is not widely removed from what he’s done throughout his professional career.
“Well, it has not been very challenging for me because I think I’ve been long overdue to head a team in the Premier League,” he told busybuddiesng.com about the demands of working with young talent.
“But being that I’m here, it’s still an opportunity for me to develop players, to coach football, to instil my own game ideas and it has not been a problem for me because these things have been structured over the years and, these things have been organized so it’s just me putting it to work.”
And while he enjoys what he does at the moment, Ezema says he is open to opportunities to head a team in the NPFL and his self-belief bubbles to the surface as he lists his accomplishments with Rangers to show “that there is no Premier League club in the country that I cannot lay my hands on and I won’t do well”.
“Talking about the Premier League, I think that there is no Premier League club in the country that I cannot lay my hands on and I won’t do well,” he says.
“I spent five seasons in Rangers and I was instrumental in Rangers winning the league and the FA Cup and participating in the CAF Champions League [and] Confederation Cup in consistent seasons so I’m not new to any level.
“I’m happy here, if bigger chances come, I’ll still prove myself. Football is football anywhere.”