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I Refused To Beg To Play At France’98 –Akpoborie

I Refused To Beg To Play At France’98 –Akpoborie

Until he joined Hansa Rostock in 1995 and his heroics helped turned the former East Germany club to German Bundesliga title-contenders, not many would remember that Jonathan Akpoborie once won a trophy for Nigeria.

I Refused To Beg To Play At France’98 –Akpoborie

Akpoborie is Isoko from Delta State but was born in Ajegunle, a slum in Lagos. He was part of a history making win for Nigeria in the maiden FIFA Under-17  World Cup in China’85. The then 16-year-old turned heads at the Workers’ Stadium, Beijing when he scored a gem of a goal against Germany barely four minutes into  the final of  the tournament on August 11, 1985.  Victor Igbinoba later hit the back of the net to help the Golden Eaglets to a 2-0   victory over the Europeans.

The striker  was selected by coach Chris Udemezue  for the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Chile two years later. Despite the Flying Eagles’ brillant array of stars, Nigeria failed to progress past the group stage of the competition won by Yugoslavia.

Akpoborie joined   Julius Berger after Chile’87 and was an important player for the outfit. But his romance  with the Lagos club ended when  he got a scholarship to study Computer Engineering at  Brooklyn College,  New York at the end of the season.

He became a prominent member of the school team and this affected his studies.

“I couldn’t complete my studies because I later moved to Germany  for professional football,” Akpoborie told our correspondent on the telephone during the week.

“I am considering going back to school to  complete the course,  but I’ve not decided yet.”

He joined   FC Saarbrucken  in  1990 and was  there for two years.

Despite banking on Rashidi Yekini for goals, Super Eagles coach Clemens Westerhof  could not afford to ignore Akpoborie’s goal scoring form in Germany as he selected him for the 1992 Africa Cup of Nations in Senegal, where  Nigeria won bronze.

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