How did you see the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa?
It was great because we won it after such a long wait of over 19 years. The least to say is that I feel so fulfilled.
Three years ago, you won a bronze medal in Angola and now you have a gold medal proudly around your neck. Certainly, there must be a big difference between the two…
That is for sure. The gold is a lot better than the bronze. Every footballer always desires the trophy in every competition. We achieved our target as a team and this win in South Africa could only be good for my career.
What was the big lesson you took away from South Africa?
If you believe in yourself, you can achieve anything.
You were forced to quit the final against Burkina Faso in the second half. How serious was the injury?
I suffered a head injury and was a bit groggy and the doctor decided I come off. It was not very serious only that I suffered from a serious headache for several hours. I thank God it was not as bad as originally feared.
Unfortunately, you did not take part in the victory celebrations after the final against Burkina Faso due to this injury.
I was advised by the doctor not to. I really missed the celebrations. It was very painful, but the consolation was that we are champions of Africa once again.
How would you score yourself out of 10 at your second Nations Cup?
It was a good and encouraging outing; we worked hard and our efforts were crowned with the trophy. I believe I did well defensively because that is my primary assignment, but I believe I could have done a lot more joining the attack.
You have been a full international since 2009 and you scored your first goal for the Super Eagles in the impressive 4-1 win over Mali in the semi-final…
I was delighted to finally score my first goal for the Super Eagles. It was quite thrilling for me. It was not an easy goal to score but I was determined to make a mark for myself and good enough it turned out well for me and the team.
(Godfrey) Oboabona and Sunday Mba from the Nigeria Premier League held their own at the Nations Cup. Were you surprised?
No. They are talented players and they grabbed their opportunity with both hands. They should soon be signing professional deals in Europe. It was a good tournament for them.
Which was your toughest game at the AFCON?
The toughest was definitely our opening group game against Burkina Faso. We were disappointed not to have won the game.
You would go on and face the same team in the final game.
Burkina Faso improved as the tournament progressed. Personally, I think they were team of the tournament.
The final ended in a narrow 1-0 win with Nigeria creating many chances, but not putting them away.
What was the most important was that we are champions of Africa again. Most often finals are usually tightly fought affairs because of the tension and interests involved. It takes a lot of guts to do things under such atmosphere.
Next month, attention will shift to the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, where you host Kenya in continuation of the series.
What we achieved in South Africa has boosted our confidence as a team and as players and we hope this will rub off on the World Cup qualifiers as well because we want to not just qualify for Brazil 2014, but also set a record there. We are really looking forward to the qualifiers.
Before the World Cup, you will be in Brazil for the FIFA Confederations Cup in June, where Nigeria are drawn in the first round with world champions Spain, Tahiti and Uruguay.
It will be a dress rehearsal for the World Cup for all of us, but on its own it’s also a special event as not many teams get the chance to feature in this competition reserved for continental champions.
How have your Portuguese club Sporting Braga received your triumph in South Africa? Chelsea, for instance, broadcasted every move of their players in the Nigerian team.
They are happy for me and I hope to rejoin them before the weekend.