Retired Super Eagles star Benedict Akwuegbu has expressed regrets over his decision to play international football for Nigeria instead of the Austrian national team who were all over him back in the day.
Benedict Akwuegbu who played for more than 16 clubs between 1992-2010 was a popular name in the Austrian league between 1998 and 2002 after turning head while playing for Grazer AK.
The lanky striker was even presented with the opportunity to represent the European country but his allegiance to Nigeria made him turned down the offer, a move he claims to be regretting today.
In an interview with complete sports, Benedict Akwuegbu rue his decision to turn down the European country whom he claimed are still showing him love up til today.
“It’s so sad that after serving my fatherland, the football authority doesn’t seem to appreciate nor recognise my efforts,” Akwuegbu said.
“It makes me feel the regret of playing for the Super Eagles. It makes me blame myself, and ask myself why I rejected Austria who were all over me then to play for their national team which I turned down in preference to Nigeria.
“If I knew I would be treated this way, perhaps I would have been much wiser. But then, that’s the prize I had to pay for being patriotic, holding tight to my love for the green, white and green colours of Nigeria.”
Akwuegbu added: “Till today, Austria still show me love, they still recognise me to the point that I now wonder how it would have been if I had adopted their nationality and represented them at the senior level.
“I’m just being honest to my conscience. I’m not against the leadership of the NFF. They are doing their best and obviously they cannot carry everyone along all together.
“But then, the field is large enough for them to increase the team [coaches] number. You have the Super Eagles, U-23 Olympic Eagles, Flying Eagles, U-17 Golden Eaglets. You also have the women teams – Super Falcons, Falconets and Flamingoes (U-17).
“You can appoint one ex-international to each of these teams. By so doing, nobody would complain. You have ex Eagles stars like Taribo West and others who gave their all to Nigeria but not recognised now nor engaged. It is not fair.”
Akwuegbu represented Nigeria at all levels. He first featured in the U17s – the Golden Eaglets. He represented the country at the FIFA U-17 World Cup finals staged in Scotland, in 1989, although he did not get the chance to play in any of the three group matches and the second round tie.
He represented also Nigeria at the U23 level, making the cut for the 1991 All Africa Games in Egypt before featuring at the 1993 U-20 CAF Championship in Mauritius with the Flying Eagles.
What should the NFF do to accommodate or remember ex-internationals?