Nigerian football fans of a certain vintage must have fond memories of Finidi George, the former championship-winning coach of Enyimba Football Club who has just been installed as the new coach of the national team, the Super Eagles. In his heyday as a dazzling and surprisingly rapid winger, Finito, as he was popularly known, was a defender’s nightmare.

He could cut in when least expected, dribble past if the opposing player lowered his guard, and score from a seemingly impossible angle. Rangy, powerful, and often downright unplayable, Finidi was an integral member of the USA 94 Clemens Westerhof-coached team that took the world by surprise.

Finidi, it goes without saying, enjoyed success both at the national team and club levels. He was brilliant for Dutch giants Ajax Amsterdam, winning the Eredivisie multiple times and the Champions League once, in 1995. He was equally successful at the other clubs he played for, including Spanish sides Real Betis and Mallorca. Finidi also had a brief spell at English side Ipswich Town (newly promoted to the Premiership), the last big team he played for before deciding to call it a day in 2004.

All this is important as a reminder of the pedigree of the person that the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) recently appointed as the head coach of the Super Eagles. It is difficult to conceive of any former player more qualified to hold the position, and we join millions of football-loving Nigerians in congratulating Mr. George on his well-deserved appointment.

May 13, 2024

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