Former Nigeria player Mobi Oparaku has revealed that he deposited his 1996 Atlanta Olympic gold medal in a bank for safekeeping because he treasured it so much.
24 years ago, in Atlanta Georgia, Nigeria entered the records book as the first African nation to win the men’s football event in the Olympic Games following a dramatic 3-2 win against Argentina in the epic final.
Oparaku, now Team Manager of Heartland, a Nigeria Professional Football League, NPFL, side said he did so for his kids and future generations, especially those who cared to have a feel of it.
“My gold medal? It is in the bank. I kept it in the bank because I treasure it so much. I want my children and even whoever that cares in the future to see it,” Oparaku told Complete sports.
The ‘Dream Team 1’ players were handsomely rewarded by Nigeria and State government as well corporate bodies.
“We were Promised Land and I got mine. We were promised that streets be named after us by our state governments in the state capital but that I didn’t get. But I personally paid for a street to be named after me in Owerri and that’s the street I’m living now,” he said.
“Willy Bazuaye (now late) was the chief coach but Bonfrere Jo Was The technical adviser. We had a wonderful but strenuous preparation, team bonding was excellent. Technically, tactically we were ready to go. Bonfrere would explain to each player, what his role on the pitch is. Even when you are on the bench, you already know that you might come in at any moment and what you would do once you come in.
Oparaku celebrates Olympic gold success with Nwankwo Kanu at Atlanta ’96
“Discipline was at its highest level. We had no margin for errors because we know there wasn’t going to be another opportunity for us to play in the Olympic Games Soccer we were all determined to make the best of the opportunity.” Added Oparaku who is now 43.
The former wing-back rated the present football in Nigeria low, compared to their days back in the 1980s and ’90s.
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By Complete Sports