How does it feel to own a new house in Lagos?
This is my second house; I’ve been a landlord for a year before I built this house. I’m very happy; it’s through the grace of God and I can’t thank Him enough. I remember when I bought this land some months ago; so to get the house finished in about eight months is surely through the Lord’s doing.
Why did you choose a place like Abule Egba, when a lot of your co-footballers are building their houses in highbrow areas?
People who know me very well know that I’m a street boy. I’ve been on the streets before I became who I’m today and I’m still on the streets because that is where I learnt a lot from to become the strong person that I am today. The street helped me to overcome every challenge that came my way. So, there is nothing I can do than to carry everybody along. It was a thing of joy seeing people in the area support me when I opened the house. Majority of them kept praying for me because of the freedom they had in the house. I don’t see anything bad being on the streets because that is where I started from, that is where I belong, and that is where I still want to be. I wouldn’t want to tell you the amount I built this house but I can assure you that it will buy a big house in Lekki or Victoria Garden City. I tell my friends that I see Lekki like a village. It’s too far for me. Of course it’s a nice place to be and maybe my next house could be in Lekki but at the moment, I’m a Mainland boy. Anything I have to do has to be between here (Abule Egba) and Ikeja. I still want to remain on the Mainland because this is where I find happiness; this is where I can easily call my friends and hang out with them. Actually my first house is just around the corner; if I have another chance to build a house here, I will because as a football player, you have to invest when the money keeps coming. We all know that we can’t play forever so I’m just using this opportunity to secure my future.
How would you describe your first season in Russia with FC Ufa?
It was strange at first because it was a new experience for me. It was also a new culture and a new challenge for me moving from Denmark to Russia where people don’t speak English. But I was given a nice reception on my arrival, the coaches and players all liked me and they made me adapt to life quickly. It looked like I had been in Russia for a long time because of the way they made things easy for me. I enjoyed my first season there, though I would have loved to do better than I did but next season would be better than the last.
Are you okay with your goal scoring performance last season?
No because if you check the statistics, you will realise that I’m a striker who scores a minimum of eight goals a season. So, struggling to score four goals in my first season in Russia is not really what I wanted but I hope to do better. Next season there are some things I want to work on because I’m not satisfied with the number of goals I scored last term.
Which is better, the Russian or the Danish league where you once played for FC Midtjylland?
It’s the Russian league. It’s more competitive than the Danish league.
How would you describe your Super Eagles experience?
It’s the same thing like playing a league game because I take every game as a final. Even if it’s in training you have to give your best because it’s how you train that will determine how you perform during matches. I always want to give my best. I’m happy to have represented my country; I got the chance and I made use of it. Unfortunately, I’m not with the team at the moment but I’m working very hard to stage a return to the squad. If any coach invites me in the future, I will give my best as always.
How true are insinuations that you are Sunday Oliseh’s boy having played for FC Ebeide, his elder brother Churchill’s team, before moving to Europe?
I don’t know and I’m surprised. I’m not Sunday Oliseh’s boy. I remember when I was in Russia and the coach called me; he actually asked after my details, went through my games, checked my profile and he thought I was one of the players who could help the team. So, he (Oliseh) called me and told me, ‘Sly, hope you can give the team 110 per cent?’ And I told him that what I needed was the chance, and that if I got it, I would give 150 per cent. If you say I am Oliseh’s boy because I played in Ebedei before, Izunna Uzochukwu also did. We were called up at the same time but at some point, Izunna was no longer invited. If Izunna was Oliseh’s boy, he should have remained in the team. If I didn’t perform very well, I wouldn’t have got the next call up. So, it’s a surprise but everyone has a right to their opinion. All I need to do is to keep working hard and improve my game.
You have been unable to score a goal after six games for the national team. As a striker, are you disappointed?
Of course I am disappointed because every footballer wants to score for their country even if it is one goal. I did my best and I gave everything I could for the team. But if I get the chance again, I promise to put the ball inside the net.
Nigeria used three coaches, late Stephen Keshi, Sunday Oliseh and Samson Siasia for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers yet the Eagles failed to qualify…
(Cuts in) I’m disappointed that we didn’t qualify for the AFCON. Even though I’m not there today, I might be there tomorrow. Nigeria didn’t qualify, it’s a great disappointment and disgrace for the nation. I think we have to sort out the coaching issue. If they invite 20 players for a game today, the next game, another new coach invites 20 new faces. So, we need someone we can trust, someone we can believe in to manage the team. That is what other countries are doing. They keep their coaches, who gradually introduce new players into the team but Nigeria is not like that. We need to work on that aspect. That will move our football forward.
Do you think we have home-based coaches who can manage the Eagles?
That’s a tough question to answer but I trust my fellow African people. I believe we have someone here who can do it for us. I’m not saying getting a European to manage the team isn’t good but we should go for the best so that they can help the country and players to achieve their objectives. That is the most important thing for me, it doesn’t matter if the coach is a foreigner or home-based. What matters is the result.
Do you think the Eagles can bounce back from their current state?
I believe we can bounce back. They did very well in the last two friendly games they played. If they can keep the team and bring in the right people there, I believe we can bounce back.