Meet Emeka Nwanna, Nigeria’s first one million naira player

Emeka Nwanna
Emeka Nwana still plays his football for Enyimba but has been in the Nigerian football scene for more than twenty years now.

He had played for the likes of EnyiPet, an amateur side in Aba and then he moved to NEPA of Umuahia who beat Enyimba in the state FA finial in 1995.

He then moved to Mobil Pegasus of Eket before signing up for Rangers International.

He joined Enyimba from Rangers, had a stint abroad before he returned to Enyimba a few years back.

Nwanna is one player who has been there, done that and seen it all.

Most of all he was the first player in the Nigerian League to attract a fee of one million naira when he crossed from Rangers International to Enyimba in 2000.

That year, while playing for Rangers International, they lost a game in Aba, 1-0 to Enyimba.

The game was watched by the former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu who fell in love with the robust, all action style of Nwana, also known as Ayaya.

After the game, the governor called him up and gave him one million naira, cash as his signing on fees, whilst they waited for both clubs to sort out transter fees.

Rangers, then led by ex international, Davidson Owumi refused to let Nwanna go and after a long drawn out transfer imbroglio, Emeka Nwanna joined Enyimba. caught up with Nwana and he shared these thoughts on his career.

naijaFootball247: Confirm that you are indeed Nigeria’s first one million naira player

Nwanna: Yes it’s true. Did that put pressure on you to deliver?

Nwanna: No! I was doing my job, the way it is supposed to be done so it did not put pressure on me You, as well as the likes of Victor Ezeji, Isiaka Olawale and Sunday Rotimi have been around for a while. How do you cope?
Victor Ezeji has played 19 seasons in Nigeria

Nwanna: It’s because of the kind of life I live that has made me able to sustain myself. The Nigerian League is tough and what kills players is when you live a life that is not good enough for football. It affects you. When I made my name, I didn’t smoke, drink or womanize and that’s why I’m still playing actively today. When Nigerians leave the country, they don’t return… why did you come back?

Nwanna: Instead of me staying abroad when all is not well, I told myself I had to come back and start again. It’s my fatherland and I cannot run away from it so I came back to start again with Enyimba. Sitting with the younger players, what kind of advise do you give them?

Nwanna: I talk to them. I advise them to follow the right path so they can last in the game. I also give them words of encouragement every now and then. I really do talk to them what is your personal target this season with Enyimba

Nwanna: Last season we won the Federation Cup and finished second in the league. This season we want to win the league and chase the CAF Champions League too. I also want to play two or three more seasons in Asia before I quit. So you still want to leave the country?

Nwanna: Yes, to Asia, for at least two more years And make some money too?

Nwanna: And make some money too You mentioned Asia, why not Europe?
Nwanna: I cannot start calling Europe because of my age. Seems you are true to yourself
Nwanna: Why would I lie to myself? The most important thing you have to tell yourself is the truth. That would be self-deceit, wouldn’t it? Thank you for your time
Nwanna: You are welcome

Note: this interview was done before Enyimba got knocked out of the CAF Champions League

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