AFCON 2023: 'It resulted in us not speaking for months' — Nigeria's captain reveals how he nearly quit football prior to tournament 

Cup of Nations AFCON 2023: 'It resulted in us not speaking for months' — Nigeria's captain reveals how he nearly quit football prior to tournament 

Super Eagles Captain William Troost-Ekong has revealed that he contemplated leaving the national team before the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Côte d’Ivoire due to a strained relationship with former coach Jose Peseiro.

Ekong disclosed that he and Peseiro were not on speaking terms, and the strained relationship developed following the disappointment of the Super Eagles missing out on the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The 30-year-old defender expressed concerns about the treatment he received from the Portuguese coach during that challenging period.

However, Ekong's narrative took a positive turn during the 2023 AFCON, where he emerged as a standout performer and led the Super Eagles to the final, despite losing 2-1 to host Cote d’Ivoire.

The captain scored three goals during the tournament and became the highest-scoring defender in AFCON history with a total of five goals.

Ekong's outstanding performance earned him the title of the tournament’s Most Valuable Player (MVP).

In an interview with CNN World Sports, Ekong shared the difficulties he faced during the period of strained communication with Peseiro, admitting that there were months when they did not speak.

“It resulted in us not actually speaking for a few months. That was the time where my pride and ego, I think maybe got the better of me. I thought about stopping, thankfully, I’ve got a good group of people around me who took me out of it," Ekong explained.

Reflecting on his journey, Ekong spoke about the importance of giving his younger self a better ending, emphasizing the pride he felt making his debut for Nigeria under the late Stephen Keshi.

“It made me think about my younger self and how much it meant and how proud I was to play my first game for Nigeria.

“I deserved to give my younger self a better ending. So that was the thing that changed my mind… I think my career has always been a testament of not giving up,” Ekong stated.

Gideon Afful Amoako
Gideon Afful Amoako

News ReporterPage: GideonAffulAmoako

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