Hibernian FC of Scotland defender, Efe Ambrose, fields questions from Completesportsnigeria.com’s DAVID MESHIOYE about the Russia 2018 bound Super Eagles, his resurgent form at the Hibs and his chances of earning a recall to the national team. Excerpts…
The Hibernian’s loss to Celtic in the semi-final of Betfred Cup must have been a big now to your trophy aspiration this season. How did your teammates managed to bounce back from rock bottom to record a win over Hearts last Tuesday?
It was a painful loss for us as a team, but we just had to put all that disappointment behind us and moved on. We knew we had to beat Hearts to earn the confidence of our teeming supporters who rallied behind us against Celtic. We needed that win badly but it was one of those bad days in the office. For me, it was a good thing that we bounced back early. The younger players must have learnt a lot from that loss too.
Did you get a rousing welcome from Celtic fans at the stadium? I mean you will recall the fans pushed for your exit from the club. Did the Celtic fans rub it in after the defeat?
( Laughter). It was a good reunion even though I would have loved to see us win that match. I still love Celtic because that was where my game developed and I was offered the opportunity to showcase my talent. I still go back there to watch their matches and the fans still show their affection towards me. It has become a family bond for me having stayed there for close to five years. I am still part of that family irrespective of what happened in the past.
Lots of your Nigerian fans would like to know what actually went wrong with your rising profile. You’re Not getting a national call-up and you ended up in the Championship. Many feels Efe Ambrose is yet to play to his full potential…
That is football for you. You must have it at the back of your mind that difficult time will come and when it does, all you need to do is to keep working hard. I was ruled out from active football for eight months and you will agree with me that staging a comeback to Super Eagles was the least on my mind then. All that mattered to me then was God, family and club career. I needed lots of playing time.
The decision to stay put in Scotland was a family decision and I have no regret at all. Life was difficult during those eight months of not playing football. I had offers from other UK clubs but I was waiting for the right one to come. It was that bad, Icould not get a work permit to join Blackburn when the offer came knocking at my door. Then Lennon put a call straight to me that he would like me to join him at Hibs who were at that time doing well in the Championship. He told me I still have a lot to offer and that coming to Hibs would help me resurrect my career. I made up my mind to join him in Edinburg. I never knew it was a blessing in disguise; winning the championship trophy and then returning to the top division
Looking at Nigeria’s qualification for Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup, you must have wished to be part of the team which seems to be enjoying the bragging rights of picking Nigeria’s sixth World Cup ticket after the games over Cameroon , Algeria and Zambia.
I am really happy Nigeria made it to the 2018 World Cup. For me, I have always wanted to play for my country. If not for Nigeria, I would not be where I am today. My life has revolved round the national team right from U-20 to the Olympic team. I have always loved to play for my country when the opportunity comes and that has not changed.
I do call my colleagues on phone before every game and I watched most of their matches in the qualifiers. I believe Super Eagles’ recent success is a collective one and every stakeholder involved deserve commendation. We have to thank the FA too, the fans, not forgetting the players and coaching crew that made this dreams a reality.
I strongly believe that the Super Eagles home loss to South Africa was the turning point in team’s success story. It was that game that served as check and balance at a time we thought we had arrived. Once we learnt from that game, we just kept winning.
How do you fancy your chances of earning a recall to the current star-studded Super Eagles squad?
All that matters now is the success of the team irrespective of eho plays and who doesn’t. I will keep working hard and hope that my opportunity comes. I have always said that Nigeria is blessed with talents, all that matter is how to manage it.
Super Eagles’ victory over Cameroun, Algeria and Zambia were the good signs that the World will witness one of the Africa’s best sides to have played at the world stage. I believe the right time is here to really show the world how good Nigeria can be. If you consider the calibre of players in that team, I strongly feel the hour has come for Nigeria to take its place in global football. Nigeria is blessed with a very strong side
Pundits have attributed recent resurgent form of the Super Eagles to Gernot Rohr’s arrival. Having played under top coaches, would you say NFF’s insistence on going for a foreign manager was the right step in the right direction?
I think football is all about the end result and Rohr has been able to successfully delivered World Cup ticket. I am really impressed with the opportunity he gave to younger players, especially those with foreign background. It is a welcome development in the Super Eagles. This will give him a pool to pick players from and the national team will benefit from it at the long run. We need our best to play and Rohr is already doing that. I strongly feel that with good preparation, Nigeria would shock the World at Russia 2018 World Cup.
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