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Felix Benjamin: I’ve not demoted myself by joining Remo Stars

Former Rivers United defensive midfielder, Felix Benjamin has insisted that by joining newly promoted Remo Stars FC, he has not demoted himself. The younger brother…

Former Rivers United defensive midfielder, Felix Benjamin has insisted that by joining newly promoted Remo Stars FC, he has not demoted himself. The younger brother to Super Eagles player, Francis Benjamin spoke to SHOT! on his career and explained why he retraced his steps to the Nigeria Professional Football League.


When and how did you join newly promoted Remo Stars FC in the Nigeria Professional Football League?

My name is Felix Benjamin. Growing up was very tough because things were not easy, but to God be the glory, things are gradually taking shape. I started my football career with Ajiya Babes. After we gained promotion, I left to join Ocean Boys where I made a name playing in the topflight. When they were relegated, I moved to Rivers United where we finished second. However, I left Rivers United in search of greener pastures abroad. When my mission abroad failed, I decided to return to newly promoted Remo Stars where I am currently playing my football. They are a modest side but I am happy playing for them. I see the club as a good platform for me to launch my career.


Did you get the support of your parents when you started your career?

They were actually not in support of my choice of career. My mother wanted us to go to school. She never knew that football will provide what it has provided for the family even at this stage.


Why did you choose to be a footballer?

Anyway, I was in the midst of footballers when I was growing up. Where we lived, there were so many professional footballers and I saw the way they were living. I was very impressed and so I decided to venture into it.  I said if God will help me, I will surely want to be a football player. However, like I said before, my mother was not in support because things were very hard for us. Our dad was late, and so she never wanted us to continue playing football. When the pressure from my mother and my uncles became too much, I stopped and took to petty trading. I later returned to football and now, the game has done a lot for me and my family.


When you started, did you ever dream that you will play at the professional level?

Yes, I have that belief because I was playing very well and a lot of people said ‘this boy is very good’. So I always believed that I will make it in football.


Who was your football role model when you were growing up?

My role model was Michael Essien of Ghana. This is because he had the kind of potentials and qualities I wanted, and because he played for some of the best European clubs. I like him very much.


Do you enjoy the needed support from your elder brother, Francis Benjamin?

Off course, he was the one who gave me the total support I needed before things become better for us. He had the opportunity to travel abroad at the early stage of his care and made a lot of difference in the family. His achievement made our mother to allow us to play but she warned us not to carry all our eggs in one basket, because even our father was a player before he joined the Nigerian Army. So Francis is very supportive to me.


How many professional clubs have you played so far?

Laugh! I have played for many clubs. In Nigeria, this is my fifth club, I played for Ocean boys, Jigawa Golden Stars, Bayelsa United, Rivers United and now Remo stars. Outside Nigeria, I played for HNK Rijeka in Croatia and Ahily Sana football club in Yemen.


What is the difference between Nigerian football and European football?

There is big difference. My prayer is that God will help me get a club in Europe. Football in Europe is amazing, but Nigerian professional league is also developing. Now you can lose a match at home if you don’t put in your best.


Now that you are back in the Nigeria Professional Football League, which areas do you want the league organisers to improve on?

 They should encourage clubs to pay more attention to players’ welfare. You see in South Africa, players are not eager to go abroad because they have all they want as professional players, and Nigeria is far ahead of South Africa in football. So they are trying but they should put more effort. The league needs to be better organised.


Why did you go back to a newly promoted side from a club that was second last season?

Actually this very question has been asked by so many people, especially my fans. The truth is that I was not around when the league started because I travelled abroad. A lot of people are saying that I have demoted myself by joining Remo stars, but I joined Remo stars for a purpose and no problem, I have my target and plans.


You are back in the Nigerian league but what are your future plans?

I am praying for God to help me to do well so that at the end, I will get a European club. I also want to play for the national team, because that is the pride of any good player. I have not got that privilege yet, but I know that if I keep working hard, one day I will get my chance to play for the national team.


What message do you have for your fans?

A lot of my fans thought I am still abroad now. There was news last month that I had signed for a club in Europe. I almost did but I had issues with clearance so the deal did not see the light of day. So my fans should pray and expect much from me, I am here to play for Remo stars, I know many of them don’t know about my where about now, because I have been receiving messages from them asking me where I am. I love them all.


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