Nigerian sports minister Solomon Dalung has said the country will miss the leadership and charisma of Joseph Yobo, who will have a testimonial staged on Friday in his honour.
Yobo is hanging up his football boots after an illustrious career during which time he captained Nigeria for several years.
Dalung has therefore tasked the former Super Eagles captain to use his wealth of experience in the game to groom players who will step into his shoes.
“There is need for us to have people who will succeed us. We have to produce people who will replicate what we did,” he told Yobo when he visited him in Abuja.
“Your (Yobo) charisma and leadership in the national team was outstanding and you have to think along the line of having a system that produces players who replicate that in the national team. No doubt, the national team will miss you.”
Dalung said he remembers Yobo from the 2002 AFCON in Mali.
“I was a member of the Federal Government delegation to the Nations Cup in 2002 in Mali. You were so young then. I appreciate your commitment to the national team,” the minister recalled.
“There was this match (against Senegal) that we lost and we would have conceded more goals if not for your doggedness in defence. In fact, at a time you rushed forward to help the attack when the attackers were not doing enough.
“The good thing is that you are being celebrated while you are alive. At least, you will know that all your labour was not in vain for Nigeria.”
Yobo said he was proud to represent his country.
“It is now that I look back and ask myself ‘did I do this much?’ After 101 games, three World Cups, six AFCONs, it is now that I feel what a blessed man I am,” the former Everton defender recalled.