The captain of Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) side, Wikki Tourists, Mohammed Idris Guda, has revealed how Brazilian legend, Roberto Carlos walked into their dressing room during the Budweiser All Stars Game in Lagos and slammed them for failing to keep to time. In this interview with Trust Sports, the NPFL star spoke on what he gained by sharing the same pitch with legendary Robert Carlos and John Terry in the exhibition match in Lagos, his team’s preparation for the 2021/2022 season and why he returned to the ‘Bauchi Elephants’ after his negotiations with Kano Pillars fell through.
When exactly did you start playing professional football?
I started in 2014 with the feeder team of Wikki Tourists before I was promoted to the main team which I currently captain. I was first the assistant captain and two years ago, I was given the captain’s armband.
How has it been serving as the captain of Wikki Tourist?
Generally, in life, being a leader is not easy. But by the grace of God, I am doing what is expected of me such as giving my best and rallying my teammates to perform optimally.
Last season, Wikki Tourist didn’t do too well in the league and escaped relegation by the whiskers. What is the guarantee that Wikki Tourists won’t battle against relegation this season?
It is true we struggled to survive in the past season. However, this time, so many things are taking place underground to see us perform well in the next season. The coach that ensured we escaped relegation is still with us and the management has added another technical adviser to the bench. With the calibre of new players brought in by the management and the intensity at which we train, we are determined to avoid whatever happened last season.
Recently, you were said to be training with Kano Pillars. Why did you return to Wikki Tourists?
I didn’t train with them. It was all rumours. What happened was that I had discussions with them but the talks fell through. I was only with them to discuss a potential transfer but it didn’t work.
Apart from Pillars, did any other club approach you for your services?
Yes, some clubs like Enyimba and Plateau United approached me but after the agreement I entered into with Wikki when I returned from Kano, I had to reject the new officers. After all, there is no place like home.
When you started playing football, did you enjoy the support of your parents or other members of your family?
My father was against it. He wanted me to go to school. I went to school and obtained a National Diploma. I then told him that I wanted to become a professional footballer. He was completely against it. It was destined for me to play as I was forced to play football by a friend. I didn’t even think it would get to this stage at all. Before he died, I had to beg my father to accept my choice of career and to God be the glory, he did. My mother benefitted from my chosen career before she died.
Have you ever been invited to any of the senior national teams, the Super Eagles or Home-based Super Eagles?
Although I am yet to be invited to any of the senior national teams, I was once invited to the camp of the National U-20 team, the Flying Eagles for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers. Unfortunately, I didn’t make the squad.
Have you given up on your dream of playing for Nigeria?
It is too early to give up. I am still a young player and I am playing well. I know that God’s time is the best. Once it is my own time, I will officially put on the green white green jersey of Nigeria. I know God’s grace and hard work will take me there.
You were in Lagos for the Budweiser All Stars Game where John Terry and Roberto Carlos featured. What did you learn from them on the pitch?
It was a dream come true to see Terry and Carlos up close for the first time. We all tried to take pictures with them and it was beautiful sharing a pitch with them. Like seriously, I think I learnt to be more time conscious. We were a bit late in kitting up and Roberto Carlos came in and he was angry that we didn’t keep to time. He then began to lecture us on the importance of keeping to time if we want to grow further in our career.
What is your take on the unwillingness of national team coaches to extend invitations to NPFL players?
Without doubt, we have competent players in the NPFL but we have not been so lucky with most of the Super Eagles coaches. I don’t blame them because most times, we didn’t start the league in time. Unfortunately, the same thing is happening again. The League organizers just announced December 17 as the new kickoff date for the 2021/2022 season. I hope it will be possible this time.
How satisfied are you with the welfare for players in the NPFL?
The clubs can do better. I think the major problem is that clubs over-depend on the government for funding. If NPFL clubs are sponsored by corporate organizations as is done in other countries, I believe players’ welfare will improve. However, in all fairness, there has been a slight improvement in terms of payment of salaries and other allowances.
Which is your favourite club in Europe?
I love Real Madrid because of their passion to win. I like such a mentality because I always fight to win matches. I hate to lose so like Real Madrid players, I fight to the end.
Thank you for your time. I appreciate you.
Thank you for having me as well.