Super Eagles’ goalie Carl Ikeme has revealed he was taken aback by the passion fans showed for football in the country when he first stepped onto the pitch for Nigeria.
Twenty-nine-year-old Ikeme was born in the United Kingdom to a Nigerian father, and the goalie has revealed the Super Eagles players are different in their approach to games as opposed to his club sides.
According to Ikeme, footballers always sing and rejoice when going to play matches unlike playing for his club side where everyone puts on head phones and is rather quiet.
Speaking on the footballing culture in Nigeria, Ikeme told FIFA.com: “The fans are brilliant. They sing and dance and you can hear them during the game. When you look in the crowd after the match you still see them dancing, singing, cheering – especially if we win.
“It’s a bit more of a carnival atmosphere and it’s different to playing back in England, where it’s quite edgy with rivalries between the supporters and stuff like that. It’s a different experience, but it’s enjoyable.”
On players reaction to games, Ikeme said: “There’s a lot more singing and dancing, especially on the way to the game. Everyone’s singing on the bus.
“It’s a bit different than going to a local game here, where most lads are quiet on the coach going to a game, listening to their own music. Everyone with Nigeria gets involved singing and dancing on the way to the game.”
The goalie said he has to willingly join the singing or the players will drag off his head phones for him to join in.
Ikeme, who was first called up by Berti Vogts for the squad in 2007, revealed he was injured and could not make the squad. He says the seven years he waited for his next call up was worth it.
On how he walked into the dressing room for the first time, Ikeme said: “It’s pretty strange really because, you know, I’m not a kid. You don’t know too many of the players. It’s not nerve-wracking, but it’s a bit first-day-of-school-like.
“You try to get to know people and build a sort of relationship, but you’re also trying to impress the coaches at the same time and prove to everyone that you should be there.”
Meanwhile the Eagles have been promised $20,000 for every goal scored in the match against Swaziland by the Rivers state governor Nyesom Wike.
The Eagles play today, Tuesday, November 17, at the Adokiye Amiesieamaka Stadium, Port Harcourt, Rivers state. Kick off time is 4 pm.