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INTERVIEW: Dosu Relives Atlanta’96 Olympics Glory: I’m Happy My Name Is Written In Gold In Nigerian Football’

INTERVIEW: Dosu Relives Atlanta’96 Olympics Glory: I’m Happy My Name Is Written In Gold In Nigerian Football’

Joseph Dosu was in goal all through, churning out wonderful performances as Nigeria’s Olympic Eagles, the Dream team, won the gold medal at the Atlanta ’96 Olympic Games.

He was the only home based player included in Nigeria’s 1996 Olympic team where despite being the least experienced of the three goalkeepers, he ended up as the team’s first-choice shot-stopper.

In this interview with Complete Sports reporter, SULAIMAN ALAO, Dosu relives the glory of winning Nigeria’s first and only Olympic football gold medal so far ..

Complete Sports: As the first choice goalkeeper of the Dream Team that won the football gold for Nigeria at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics Games, what will you say the victory meant to you personally?

Dosu: I will say it was an achievement that I and the whole nation will never forget. It was an achievement that made Nigerians to raise their heads with pride. Our children and the coming generations won’t forget the feat. Anytime my son comes home and there’s talk about the Olympics, he’s always proud of himself, much more myself that was an active participant.

It is a legacy for us all and it’s something to be proud of. The victory also opened a lot of doors for all the players that featured in the team and I think it also helped other Nigerian players thereafter.

And what will you say it meant for Nigerian football in general?

Dosu: I think that victory reshaped Nigerian football globally. The Olympics is the next competition to the World Cup in FIFA`s calendar and Nigeria became the first African country to win the competition which meant it was an historic achievement for the country. We had previously won trophies at the cadet levels, won the African Cup of Nations at the senior level but nothing compares to winning the Olympics gold medal so far because it was unprecedented.

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Dosu celebrates at the Atlanta ’96 Olympics

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

That is not berating the achievements of other football triumphs we’ve had in Nigeria, but it is just stating the fact. If you ask some of the players that played in 1994 and were not part of the Olympics they might possibly have a different view. But I’m sure those of them that participated in both competitions will agree with my view. The Olympics win brought greater recognition worldwide for Nigerian football and that has helped the confidence of our footballers to aim higher. Winning the World Cup should be the next target for Nigeria because that is the only thing that can surpass our Atlanta ’96 achievement.

How was the team able to pull off what no African team had done in history?

Dosu: I will say it was destiny, it was not our making. A lot of things went wrong, a lot more could have gone wrong but in spite of it all, we were able to overcome. I think it was pre-ordained to happen that way. Personally, it was an honour to attend the Olympics and then winning the gold medal was something special. It was the highlight of my career as a footballer and for many of the other players too because it was a global event.

Can you summarily tell us how the journey to the gold medal was?

The journey to the gold medal was not easy, but like I’ve said earlier, it was God’s making. I remember when we were leaving for the tournament, we lost a friendly game against Togo right here in Lagos and the whole country was in an uproar that we were not ready for the competition. The authorities insisted that we should play another friendly and we played against 3SC – one of the strongest teams in the Nigerian league at the time who were also campaigning for the CAF Champions Cup. Despite winning the game 2-1, the media tagged us as ‘dreamers’ but eventually when we won the gold medal, we became the Dream Team and subsequent teams after us have continued to be labelled Dream Team II, III, IV since then. I’m happy that my name has been written in gold in Nigerian football forever. I thank God for that.

What would you say really spurred the team to victory?

We had unity of purpose in camp despite the usual distractions you have when you have players from different leagues coming together in camp as well as administrative issues. Also we were all desperately hungry to prove a point and there was the God factor that we all call luck. That was why I had earlier said it was destined. At that period, some players already in the Super Eagles were young enough to be part of the team and if you remember, they couldn’t attend the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations hosted by South Africa to defend the trophy they won earlier in 1994 because Nigeria pulled out. So that, as well as the fact that fans and you press people, (laughter) had already written us off, helped the team psychologically to want to make a big statement and God helped us to surmount every other obstacles all the way to winning the football gold medal.

How did that feat impact on Dosu’s career thereafter?

As fate would have it, I had a very short career but I thank God that for the six or seven years that I played football, I achieved a lot. I won the Nigerian league and FA Cup, I later proceeded to play for the full senior team, the Super Eagles and played in the AFCON and World Cup qualifiers, helping the country to qualify for the France ’98 World Cup. I also played professional football in Europe before an accident cut short my career. I am however, grateful to God for all I was able to achieve in my short career and the fact that I’m still alive to tell the story myself.

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Joseph Dosu celebrates Atlanta ’96 Olympics gold feat with coach Jo Bonfrere

Are you still in touch with your gold-medal winning teammates?

Of course, I’m still in touch with all of them. Social Media have even made things a lot easier as everyone is almost a touch of button away. We all still remember the feat with nostalgia, as well as all the pranks we used to play while in camp and all through the tournament. I see all of them as heroes of Nigerian football and I’m proud to belong to that triumphant group of players.

What have you done with your gold medal?

It’s a prized possession for me. A special medal that encapsulates the story of my football career. As such, I have kept it in the bank because it is so precious and invaluable.

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

I wouldn’t like to end this interview without asking your view on the failure of the current Dream Team to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics which was supposed to hold this year but has been postponed till next year due to the coronavirus pandemic…

It was unfortunate that we couldn’t qualify for 2020 Olympics football event which has been postponed. We didn’t qualify for the last edition held in Brazil four years ago either and one would have thought we would have learnt from that episode. All I can say at this point is that all football stakeholders in the country must come together, take a critical look at the problems leading to non-qualification in order to find a lasting solution to it. We must put in place structure to harness our abundant football talent especially at the youth level because failure to qualify for such global events usually impact negatively on our players, fans and general football development .

Your final word to Nigerians…

Dosu: I want to wish all Nigerians happy sallah festival in arrears, as well as ask them to keep safe with all government guidelines while we all pray for an end to the covid19 pandemic soon.

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