The leadership of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) on Monday visited former Super Eagles first-choice goalkeeper Carl Ikeme at The Christie Clinic in Manchester, UK where he is being treated.
Ikeme played in the early rounds of the qualifying campaign for thre 2018 FIFA World Cup, but he is now sidelined by illness after being diagonised to be having leukemia.
Carl Ikeme became the Super Eagles’ number one man months before the Russia 2018 preliminary fixture against Swaziland and the first match of the group phase against Zambia in Ndola.
He kept goal in those three matches, only to be diagnosed with acute leukemia after returning “abnormal blood tests”.
This was during pre-season testing at English club Wolverhampton Wanderers and he has since then had to undergo chemotherapy.
On Monday, as the Super Eagles were getting set for Tuesday’s pre-Russia 2018 World Cup friendly against Serbia in London, the NFF delegation visited Ikeme.
According to a statement by the NFF Director of Communications, Ademola Olajire, the federation’s delegation was led by its President, Amaju Pinnick.
“In the delegation also were the NFF First Vice-President, Seyi Akinwunmi, General Secretary Mohammed Sanusi, Super Eagles Team Administrator Dayo Enebi, as well as Eagles goalkeepers’ trainer Alloy Agu and team media officer, Toyin Ibitoye,’’ he said in the statement.
Olajire went on to quote Pinnick as saying during the visit:
“We have come on behalf of the Government of Nigeria and the NFF to check up on you, find out how your recovery is going and to tell you that you are still very much on our minds and a member of the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
“We have also come to seek your permission to be our special guest at the pre-World Cup friendly game against England at the Wembley Stadium on June 2.
“We want you to perform the customary kick-off of that game and if you approve of it, we will immediately request this of The Football Association.”
The NFF president further assured the goalkeeper that he would be fully captured in the team’s financial benefits for Nigeria’s qualification for the FIFA World Cup.
“This is because we all remember the role you played in helping us get off to a winning start in the final phase of qualifiers in Ndola against Zambia.
“We believe this is just a phase that will pass away. You will come out of it stronger and still be able to do what you love to do the best, both for your club and the Super Eagles of Nigeria.”
Enebi, on his part, said: “On behalf of the team, we want to reassure you of our love. The entire team would have been here to see you if we were not playing against Serbia.
“Coach Gernot Rohr, the technical and backroom staff are all praying for your speedy recovery. The team asked that I present this autographed jersey, signed by all the players, to you. It is our new kit for the World Cup.”
Also, Agu had this to say: “As your goalkeeper coach in the national team, I know you are a fighter, you never give up. I believe these attributes will see you through. We will always be there for you as you recover from this illness.”
An ecstatic Ikeme, moved by all the kind words, responded that he was so overwhelmed by the show of love.
“I am indeed grateful to Nigerians who daily flood my phone with prayers and well wishes. I feel their love everywhere, everyday, on social media.
“I thank the Government of Nigeria and the NFF for all the support and I appreciate my teammates so much for being there for me.”