Print

African football expert 'Tunde Adelakun has sent a passionate plea to all those involved with Under-17 starlet Kelechi Iheanacho, not to ruin his career, which has shown so much prospect.   

Since the U17 World Cup MVP returned from the Eaglets' Cup winning exploits in the UAE, a lot has gone on regarding speculations over his future, and Adelakun is worried.   

"Agents have started prowling round these players, which is nothing new", he said "Iheanacho showed great potential in UAE and these agents, who rely on such talent in making a living, are right to be interested. "However, we need to look at history and err on the path of caution".   

Adelakun, who is also a Special Adviser to the Nigeria Football Federation on international affairs, recounted that the 2007 squad of a World Cup winning Eaglets, all faded into oblivion not long after the tournament, this denying Nigeria the privilege of having the boys graduate into the senior national team.   

"If Nigeria won the U17 title six years ago, then majority of the players should have graduated to a Super Eagles squad that should be fighting to win the 2014 World Cup, if they had been managed well" he added. 

"This was the model in countries like Spain, whose U20 team that included the likes of Casillas and Xavi, won the 1999 U20 title in Nigeria and graduated to be world champions today. Let's also look at Brazil and their development from youth level.  

"Iheanacho won the MVP in UAE, same way as Ronaldinho won the same in 1997 in Egypt during this same competition, and just like Messi won it at U20 level in Holland in 2005. See where these guys' careers took them subsequently. "This is what we should be aiming to see of our own Kelechi Iheanacho, in a few years time".   

The Director of African football's Hall of Fame then made a direct plea to the agents and the custodians of the player's football, to temper ambition with caution.   

"I hear there is a Mr Graham, based in Portugal, as well as a Mr Henry Galliano - both agents who might know where the player is. I'm literally begging them to return this player and think about his future".   

Adelakun also had words for his colleagues and principals at the NFF. "We need to protect these guys and let the world know that Nigeria's triumph in UAE was no fluke and that we can sustain it. If it means refusing to grant international clearance to the player until certain conditions are met, let's do it. We can make a strong case to CAF and FIFA and they will back us up" he opined.