Kingsley Obiekwu: Olympic Gold Medalist Reveals How He Became Commercial Bus Driver

Former Super Eagles quarterback explains what led him to his new endeavor despite his exploits in the beautiful game

Former Nigerian international Kingsley Obiekwu reveals that he became a commercial bus driver to supplement his meager coaching salary.

Obiekwu, 47, was part of Nigeria’s under-23 squad that won the 1996 Olympic gold medal in Atlanta.

Before making history with Jo Bonfrere’s team, the tough-as-nails defender joined the Dutch Eredivisie’s Go Ahead Eagles after impressing Nigeria’s elite division Udoji United.

Even so, his promising career was short-lived – he retired at age 30 due to a heart-related illness. He currently manages Ingas FC – a team that plays in Nigeria’s Nationwide League One.

Social media collapsed on Wednesday after learning that the national icon now works as a commercial bus driver in Enugu for a living.

“The story is absolutely true, there is no lie about it. I had to open up my situation to people because I needed help,” Obiekwu told GOAL.

“It was not an easy thing to do, but I had to gather a lot of courage because things are very difficult.

“The club I run is Ingas and we play in NLO 1, we don’t train every day – we train on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. So, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I am always free and I take advantage of these days to do my transport business.”

Your response to former teammates from Nigeria

Asked how former international teammates like Nwankwo Kanu, Emmanuel Amuneke, Daniel Amokachi and Sunday Oliseh reacted, Obiekwu stated:

“Everyone has a problem or two that he’s been taking care of, so that’s why I didn’t want to bother anyone.

“The only person close to me is Nwankwo Kanu and he visits and helps me whenever he is in Enugu.

“For the rest of the squad, I understand that everyone is not playing active football again and is just managing themselves. So I don’t want to bother you.

“Most of my peers are going through the same challenge, but I had to muster up a lot of courage to scream for help.”

 

Why Your Promising Career Ended Prematurely

After leaving the Netherlands, Obiekwu continued his professional career with Al Ahli in Dubai and then with Egyptian team Al Masry, sandwiched between spells with Enugu Rangers.

“Every man has his secret. When I went to Holland in 1995, it was discovered after my medical exams that I had an enlarged heart before that, which prevented me from going any higher,” sobbed Obiekwu.

“I was not a starter, I come in as a substitute, but when I come in, I do very well.

“So many teams wanted to sign me but my club never wanted to publicize the situation so they will scare them away with very high transfer fees.

“When my contract expired after three and a half years, I had to go to the UAE because their medical device was not sophisticated.

“Also, I had a knee injury that really set me back and I had to stop playing professional football at age 30.”

Thanks to Ahmed Musa and Nigerians

The 47-year-old coach thanked Super Eagles captain Ahmed Musa for his kind gesture, as well as the Nigerians who went out of their way to put a smile on his face.

“On Wednesday, Captain Ahmed Musa sent me two million naira after hearing my story. It means a lot to me and I am so grateful for your outpouring of love,” added Obiekwu.

“Unfortunately for me, people like me have not reached the highest level because of injuries and medical conditions, but I am grateful to God that I have a very supportive family.

“I want to thank the Nigerians so much, they showed me love and applauded me for my courage.

“This is an indicator that there are good Nigerians everywhere who are willing to help.”

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