With 87 caps, 15 goals, and being the only Nigerian player ever to score a brace in a FIFA World Cup match, Ahmed Musa has also been blessed with a national career of almost 11 years.
Unfortunately, his decision to return to the Nigeria Professional Football League [NPFL] and subsequent unveiling by Kano Pillars was abysmal and showed why local football will continue to wallow in the doldrums.
Kano Pillars FC chairman, Alhaji Surajo Shuaibu Jambul presenting Super Eagles captain, @Ahmedmusa718 with his new Pillars Jersey for the @LMCNPFL second stanza. pic.twitter.com/yjwHqNiHhP
— Kano Pillars FC Official (@pillarsfc) April 15, 2021
One veteran journalist, who has reported the local league for almost two decades, said, ”If they had their way, they won’t unveil him!” The ‘they’ in that sentence was referring to football administrators in Nigeria.
I remember how Musa was unveiled by his last club, the Saudi Arabia team- Al-Nassr, in 2020.
From their Twitter and Instagram teasers to the actual unveiling, the club created an event of his arrival. Compare to how Musa was unveiled by Pillars – in a badly lit room, with no fanfare and fans absent; a testament to the fact that most Nigerian football administrators do not understand and appreciate the billion-dollar business that is football. Juxtapose this with the thought of Lionel Messi returning to Argentina to rejoin Newell Old Boys…
Watch this video of Carlos Tevez’s return to Boca Juniors in 2015 to appreciate the disparity in what they achieved with Musa’s return.
Even in the NPFL, Enyimba’s unveiling of Tosin Omoyele was unveiled greatly; digitally, despite the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic.
See how Enyimba unveiled Chan Eagles player, @omoyele_tosin9 .
Enyimba leads Kano Pillars follows. pic.twitter.com/dHanEZrFWi
— MR OLAWALE QUADRY 🥇 (@walequadry) April 16, 2021
In his 11 years as a professional, Musa has commanded almost $50 million [N19 billion] in transfer fees playing in the Netherlands, Russia, England, and Saudi Arabia.
Premium Times spoke to some journalists on how and why Nigeria continues to get it wrong in administering a game that almost all 200 million Nigerians follow passionately.
“This is a classic case of ‘how not to unveil a player’ especially a top player like the national team captain,” says Enitan Obadina. “Everything around the whole exercise was quite shameful. I hear they (Pillars) are planning another unveiling ceremony after all the backlash gotten. It is better they do that to redeem whatever is left of their pride.”
The unveiling of players is a special event by football teams, especially for iconic signings like Musa, who has a cult-like following with almost a million followers on Twitter and Instagram.
Curiously, his unveiling pictures and news have not been published on his verified accounts-both Twitter and Instagram.
Mudashiru Shittu, who is a Lagos-based journalist, said the wishy-washy display by Kano Pillars was a sad event and an attestation to the fact that there is nothing actually professional about the football league in Nigeria.
“I know some people will say this is a failure by Kano Pillars but for me, I believe it is a reflection of our league, Kano Pillars is an ‘A’ list club in Nigeria, so if they can act like this, what would you expect from the smaller clubs.”
But Wale Quadri, a media officer of an NPFL club, believes what Pillars did with Musa’s return should not be used to judge the other clubs in the NPFL. “It is not a reflection of the Nigerian League, we all saw what the likes of Enyimba, Abia Warriors even Plateau United did with the unveiling of Sunday Adetunji.”
Quadri continued: “Kano Pillars have that poor antecedence when it’s come to the unveiling of their players. I don’t think it is too much for them to do something more proper again for posterity’s sake, we are not just talking of any player here, we are talking of the Super Eagles captain, Ahmed Musa deserves better than this.”
Other players that have returned from successful professional sojourns abroad with no attendant fanfare include the late Rashidi Yekini, who joined Gateway FC in 2005, and Daniel Amokachi, also in 2005.
Musa played for Pillars in the 2009 season, scoring 18 goals as the Kano-based team finished second behind Bayelsa United, but on his return, Musa vowed to lead Pillars to the title.
“I left Pillars over 10 years ago without winning the league then, but now, by God’s grace, I will make a special record by leading the club to the Nigeria Professional Football League title.”
In hindsight, Musa’s return could have been better managed to better project and elevate the image of the NPFL.