The Nigeria Football Federation and their President Amaju Pinnick have expressed shock at Carl Ikeme’s acute leukaemia diagnosis but have backed the Super Eagles first-choice goalkeeper to fully recover from the illness, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.
Ikeme’s club Wolverhampton Wanderers on Thursday announced that the goalkeeper, 31, was diagnosed with leukaemia, a form of cancer of the blood.
“The Nigerian football fraternity and indeed the world, pray for @Carl_Ikeme as he faces this tough but not impossible journey. We believe,” Pinnick wrote in a first of a series of tweets on Thursday.
“We believe this strength will see @Carl_Ikeme through. Stay strong @Carl_Ikeme and have faith. You will beat this like a champion.
“As devastating as this is, we also know @Carl_Ikeme possesses the fighting spirit associated with Nigerians. We are behind Carl completely.”
NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, in his reaction was quoted in a statement released by the governing body: “What? This is very, very sad. Carl Ikeme diagnosed with acute leukemia? This is harsh.
“Our thoughts are with Carl at this difficult period. The NFF and the football fraternity in Nigeria are taken aback by this sad development, knowing how strong Carl has been in goal for Nigeria since he made his debut in 2015.
“We have been told that he will start chemotherapy immediately. We want him to stay strong and remain the self-assured man that he has always been, and we will continue to pray for him and wish him the best with regards to the treatment.”
Ikeme took over as Nigeria’s No.1 following the sudden retirement of three-time World Cup star Vincent Enyeama from international football in October 2015.
Ikeme was in goal for the Super Eagles over two legs of the 2018 FIFA World Cup preliminary round against Swaziland, as well as the 2-1 defeat of Zambia in Ndola at the beginning of the group phase of the 2018 FIFA World Cup race.
He was also in action against Tanzania and Egypt in 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying matches, and in friendly games against Mali and Luxembourg in Europe last year.
He however missed the final games of last season for both club and country due to injury.