Former Super Eagles goalkeeper Dele Aiyenugba has revealed his reasons for returning to the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) with Kwara United.
In an interview with Daily Times, Aiyenugba said he is back in the league because he believes in the project at Kwara United and sees himself as a source of encouragement to older and younger players.
Aiyenugba said he feels happy to be back to the NPFL and hopes to contribute his best to its development.
Explaining his reason for returning, he said: “I came back to the league because I want to encourage other players to return and also young players in the league.
“For example, in Israel, Benayoun went back to Israel, played for 5 seasons at Maccabi Tel Aviv, Beitar Jerusalem, Beitar Tikva, and Maccabi Haifa before he stopped playing. Why we don’t do it in Nigeria kills me. When a player wants to play, they say he’s old and broke, but he needs to feed his family and still has his two legs to play. Will he beg for money from his colleagues to feed his family? It’s so funny.
“We need to start from somewhere, and this is where I started from. My kid is still part of the academy and when they see me play, it will boost their morale and encourage them.
“Kwara State is my home. I’m from Kogi State, but I started from Kwara Stars. They are planning to play continental also, and they want to use my experience and those of other new signings and players in the team. I’ll be in the front and will bring them together and see what we can achieve. It’s a good thing, and other players can also come in to help with their knowledge in the Nigerian league. They will encourage the fans to see the Nigerian league. I started from here, and I’m so happy to be a part of the league again.”
When quizzed on what he feels about the state of the league, the former Enyimba goalkeeper and two-time winner of the CAF Champions League said:
“I’m happy that the league is improving. They just need to do more, and the most important thing is [the] players’ welfare and insurance of the players. Give them everything and make them happy. They are trying but they need to do more. We’ve not won the CAF Champions League in a long time.”
On what fans of Kwara Utd can expect from him, Aiyenugba, who was capped 17 times by the Super Eagles, said he will do his best to make them happy.
“Kwara State is a state that loves football. They should expect the ‘Flying Cat’ (Aiyenugba’s nickname) because, alongside me, the new players will try and fans should support the team.”
He added that players in the league need to be valued and projected the more through endorsement deals.
“For long, I can’t mention a league player because there are no endorsements and other players do this. League players from other countries are superstars.”
Aiyenugba said he will encourage his son and any player to start from the scratch as that’s what he did, and it worked for him greatly.
“You can’t build a house without a foundation. I started in the NPFL, and from there I played in the U-17, U-20, U-23 and this helped me in Europe. Other players don’t want to start straight from the top.”