Vincent Enyeama is arguably the finest goalkeeper Nigeria has ever produced and the most capped player of the national team who retired from international football after 101 appearances for the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
Despite how good he was when he came into Limelight in 2002 to when he fizzled out in 2018, he did not have the opportunity of playing for a grade-A club. The only club which is relatively a big club he has played for is French club Lille. He spent 7 years at the club before his relationship with the club’s management went sour in 2018.
Before 2013, Enyeama was the best thing that happened in Israeli league where he has featured for three Israeli clubs – Bnei Yehuda (2005–2007), Hapoel Tel Aviv (2007–2011), and Maccabi Tel Aviv (loan).
Despite being a goalkeeper, Enyeama has scored a total of 36 goals for the clubs he has played for in Israel. No wonder he won the player of the year award in Israel in 2008-2009 football season.
All these achievements and his performance at the 2014 World Cup attracted top clubs especially in the Premier League to seek for the signature of the goalkeeper. Two of those were Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal football club.
However, the 37-year-old out of club goalkeeper failed to sign with them because he was told that he would serve as a second choice goalkeeper at the clubs.
According to a recent interview he had with ESPN, he hated the idea of not having regular playing time.
“It was after the 2006 Nations Cup and then again around the 2014 World Cup. When I turned them down, that is when they [Arsenal] took David Ospina.
“For me, I was at the stage where I preferred playing even if it was for one of the smallest teams. That is what the agents that were involved told me. That Arsene (Wenger) wanted me but he is not so sure because of my height and things like that.
“People have their choices and I respect their choices.”
Enyeama is still wondering why he didn’t sign for Bolton Wanderers
Enyeama also disclosed that he would have started his football career in Europe with Bolton Wanderers but didn’t know why they didn’t sign him after a successful trial with the club.
It was when he failed to land the deal with Bolton that he took off to Israel where he launched his European football career.
“They (Bolton) even told me I was going to get jersey number 35. All that was left was just to do the medicals”, he said.
“I was supposed to be number three, because Bolton had two goalkeepers already, with Jussi Jaaskelainen as number one.
“But I don’t regret it because it gave me the opportunity to go to Israel. I am so happy that I went to Israel because it opened doors for me.”