Abia Warriors football club chairman, Chief Emeka Inyama is in the lime light for having spotted the Nigerian new born goal machine, Elvis Chisom Chikatara.

In an exclusive interview with a Nigerian based web portal, felele247, he vividly recounts the entire journey of the player, christened ‘kolanut boy’ who was recruited to play for the Umuahia-based team.

 Great things really have small beginnings. I am happy this boy has become what he is today. It gives me confidence to keep pushing.

It makes me want to give more rookies a chance. Here was a boy who had never played for a professional club before.

The most he was doing was some casual matches with an academy in Umuahia. And I recruited him for Warriors.

I had oppositions then but I insisted. I am glad he has vindicated me. I saw him in a village match during Christmas.

He was so excellent on the day but he was so young. To say he was raw is an understatement. I took note of him. I wanted to take him right away into Warriors but I still needed to see how he will fare against the professionals.

I set up a friendly between his team and Warriors. He scored against my team. I recommended that he should be signed on but some of the coaches told me ‘you know these kids, when they see big boys now they won’t play. When they see a big pitch and a loud crowd, they will disappear.

But, I was adamant he should be enlisted in our team. So there was another match between Warriors and another team and he was to play for us. He scored twice in that game.

Right away, I damned everybody who felt he was too young to play for my team. I wanted to sign him that very minute. You know he is a mummy’s boy. In fact, to show you how small he was then, he never did anything without his mother’s consent.

When I told mama about my plans to recruit him for Warriors. Most importantly, she pointed out that the boy was the only of her children who helped to go inside the bush and harvest her kolanuts. Kolanuts was their family business. The mother asked me ‘if you take this boy away now, who will be harvesting my kolanuts?’

I pleaded with her and told her that when the boy flourishes, he will bring more than kolanuts into the family. Reluctantly, she agreed but she shed tears in the process.

It was one big emotional moment for me when she gave Chisom her blessings amidst tears. So that is the origin of the nickname ‘Kolanut boy’. I gave him that nickname. After visiting his family home and seeing how entrenched the kolanut business was there, I decided to nickname him Kolanut boy.

I rarely called him Chisom. I called him Kolanut boy. In doing his, I felt it will help him realize his roots and strive for excellence. I am happy he did not disappoint me. Season after season, he has gotten better. He is a cool-headed boy who is always willing to learn.

Before the opening game at CHAN 2016, I knew he will shock everybody whenever he is given the chance. I spoke with him and he told me ‘daddy, I am not the first choice striker.

They (the coaches) prefer to play me from the bench but even if it is a minute of playing time that I get, I will show them what I can do. I am not taking credit for discovering him.

He had worked with some grassroots coaches. There was one coach Uche who was his coach at the academy level before we signed him on. Those people no doubt honed his talent.

But I thank God for using me to provide the platform for him to showcase that talent. Perhaps, he would have been languishing in obscurity now. Abia Warriors is his only professional club till date. We are proud to play such a part in his life. His exploits will pave the way for other budding players on the streets of Umuahia, Abia and beyond.

I will also encourage club administrators to look inwards for home-grown talents. In whatever deals he is going into, I will make sure his interest is well protected. I took him away from home.

His mother handed him over to me and I promised her that the boy will bring more than kolanut home. This was a boy that had never played football outside Umuahia before I snapped him up. Now the whole world has taken note of him.

Chikatara’s story is one of the hundreds of thousands of such tales how successful footballers or sportsmen per say have graduated through life to the top.

When Chikatara scored a hat-trick against Niger at the CHAN 2016 finals in Rwanda, he dedicated the goals to his late mother.

As you assimilate this, the kolanut boy penned a mega deal with Morocco giants, Wydad Casablanca Football club who beat off a series of clubs to the signature of the blessed forward.

Kano Pillars F.C, a Nigerian club has offered Nigerian Naira Sh. 750,000 and a car.

Besides, Inyama admits he had already got other15 offers from Europe and other North African teams.

Such is the significance of hard working, humility and self-belief.

Script attributed to Clement Nwankpa Jnr of the Nigerian website, felele 247.com

David Isabirye is a senior staff writer for Kawowo Sports where he covers most of the major events.

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