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Bonfrere: Atlanta ’96 Gold My Biggest Achievement, But I Haven’t Received My Medal

Bonfrere: Atlanta ’96 Gold My Biggest  Achievement, But I Haven’t Received My Medal

Dutch coach, Johannes Bonfrere has labelled Nigeria U-23 Dream Team 1 shock victory in the men’s football event of the1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta Georgia as his greatest achievement in his football career, but regrets that 24 years after, he has not been given the medal, Completesports.com reports.

24 years ago, precisely on August 3, 1996, Emmanuel Amuneke flicked home a 90th minute winner off a free kick after both Celestine Babayaro (28th) and Daniel Amokach (74th) had canceled out Argentina’s goals by Claudio Lopez (3rd min) and Hernan Crespo (50th pen.), and the West African nation became the first African team to win gold medal in the Olympics football event.

And the man who guided the winning Dream Team 1 side, Bonfrere, looks back with pride about how it all happened.

“Yeah, that was my biggest achievement in my career,” Bonfrere responded from his Netherlands home when Complete Sports called him up.

“We played as a team, on and off the pitch. And that’s the strong point of a good team like Nigeria, a great nation with good players.

Bonfrere continued: “Nigeria is blessed with fantastic talents, players with strong mentality and always ready to work for success.”

“With the quality players that Nigeria has, every coach would want to work here and make success.

Also Read – 24 Years After: Celebrating Nigeria’s 1996 Olympics Gold-Winning Team

“Yeah, I still remember the moment in Atlanta, it is still fresh in my head, not minding it’s already 24 years gone.

“We put Africa on the strong football point in the World, beat two World strongest football powers, Brazil and Argentina.

“In the semifinal against Brazil, we went down 1-0 in the first half from Brazil free kick. But in the second half, the will to win was high among my players. Our mentality was high and the goals started coming.

johannes-bonfrere-u-23-eagles-atlanta-96-olympics-super-eagles

U-23 Eagles at Atlanta’96 Olympics

“In the final, by my understanding, Argentina was not as strong as Brazil. They were more physical and aggressive unlike a technical Brazil.

“It was great for us to win the gold and Nigeria became Champions of the World in the Olympics football.”

Bonfrere remembers the heroic welcome his wife and daughter gave him on return to the the Netherlands after the monumental success at the Atlanta Olympic Games.

“Sure, my family were following the games, our progress at the Olympic Games. They were happy and were at the airport in Amsterdam waiting for me.

“They were at the airport with a car. After the immigration protocol, I was running at the airport before my wife and daughter saw me and we drove off”.

Despite the fond memories of the Atlanta Olympic Games, Bonfrere appears clearly a sad man.

And he’s in no mood to hide his feeling of disappointment and frustration.

“Unfortunately, I’ve not received my (gold) medal till date,” he said as his voice went shrink.

Also Read – Ajunwa: How I Dumped Football And Jumped Into Olympic Gold

“It’s 24 years and I don’t have my medal or anything to show for our effort, our victory and it’s a shame.

“Even Patrick Paschal has also not received. Also, the land promised us by Lagos State Government at Lekki has not been given to me till now, as well as Paschal too.

johannes-bonfrere-u-23-eagles-atlanta-96-olympics-super-eagles

Nigeria’s Olympic Eagles celebrate their gold medal feat with coach Jo Bonfrere at Atlanta’96 Olympics

“I’ve written severally to successive Lagos State Governments for them to allocate my own land, nothing has come out of it.

“Others have gotten theirs but I haven’t. It’s a big shame, I hope they give me mine”.

The Dutch tactician recalls how he almost won the Nations Cup with the Super Eagles in 2000. Bonfrere says he would have been a proud AFCON gold medalist if not for the disallowed (penalty) goal by the referee.

“After the Olympic Games in 1996, I returned home to Amsterdam, Netherlands.

“In 1998 or so, the Nigeria (Football) Federation asked me to come. They said the AFCON is coming up and that the Super Eagles are in the group with Tunisia and Morocco.

“They were afraid Eagles may not qualify from the group. So, we prepared, beat Tunisia, beat Morocco and finished top in the group.

“In the final with Cameroon, we would have won the gold if not for the ‘stupid goal’ the referee said was not a goal but the linesman said it was a goal.”

By Sab Osuji

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COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 10
  • Omaskels 3 weeks ago

    Nice coach with great achievement..But who is with d medal? Is it d federal government, NFF or FIFA?? Let’s get it straight..so he can get d fruit of his labour..

     
  • Omo9ja 3 weeks ago

    This is strange to me because we saw our team on TV collecting their medals including the coaches of the Dream team.

    Maybe NFA or FIFA officials took the medals from Jo and Pascal in the dressing room, I don’t know. This is strange indeed.

    So how come Mr. Jo said he haven’t received his own medal 24 years ago?

    It is not clear to me oooo. In 9ja, impossible is nothing. If that be the case hmm. Akoba gafara o. God bless Nigeria!!!

     
  • Obinna 3 weeks ago

    This man again. Which medal? Is it not this one we are seeing on your neck so. Abi that one na fake? Put your complain across to Atlanta 1996 Olympic Committee concerning this medal abeg

     
  • Daddy 3 weeks ago

    …May be this medal on his neck is a borrowed one!!!

     
  • Collins id 3 weeks ago

    i think this is fake news. the man wants his land in lekki not the medal. holand is home to most international courts. what is he waiting for? or maybe he should be recall for new olympic job

     
  • Westerhoff said he is a serial liar, and I think he is right. Because how will one explain a situation where only u and pascal were not given their medals out of the whole team? Even when we watched the medal presentation live that early morning around 3am, I still don’t get it. Both Federal and Lagos government has fulfilled their promises to the team, as confirmed by other members of the squad. How is only the gaffer and pascal that’s left out again? I won’t be surprised if he deny this interview Tom…

     
  • Dr. Simon Idohou 3 weeks ago

    Johannes Bonfrere again!!!

    WHO ON EARTH GRANTS THIS GUY AN INTERVIEW AND PUBLISH IT ON A MEDIA ???

    COMPLETE SPORTS…NA WHA FOR UNA SHA!!!

    JO BONFRERE IS REALLY CATCHING UP WITH SERIOUS OLD AGE !!!

    WHY MUST IT BE IN NIGERIA???….WHY HE NO DEY GRANT INTERVIEW FOR HOLLAND???

    COMPLETE SPORTS…NA WHA FOR UNA SHA!!!

     
  • Pompei 3 weeks ago

    Any and all promises made to these guys should be kept. I think this claim by Bonfrere should be looked into. Not so much for the medal, as he obviously received that. The land issue should be investigated, and if it is true, Bonfrere should be given his due. The cost to verify Bonfrere’s complaint is next to nothing.

     
    • GLORY 3 weeks ago

      Those ” anyway is a way” NFF/Government officials since since go don use Bonfrere land take see front lang time. Those people’s got no conscience.

       
  • Francesco A 3 weeks ago

    Coaches and team crew dont get medals at Olympic games..Make they give the man his land in lekki, nothing much in that.