Super Eagles assistant coach, Emmanuel Amuneke says winning the Atlanta Olympic Games in the US changed the profile of his football career.
Amuneke led the Golden Eaglets to win the 2015 U-17 FIFA World Cup as a coach and was also part of the 1994 African Cup of Nations squad that defeated Zambia 2-1 in the final to win the trophy for the second time in Tunisia.
Most importantly, it was his goal that nailed Argentina 3-2 in the final of the Olympic Games and Amuneke revealed that was the turning point to his football career.
“Before going to the Olympics, there was an agreement with Barcelona, but I was struggling with injury, so there were doubts about my ability,” Amuneke recalled in an interview with FIFA.com.
“But after the Olympics, Barcelona picked up their interest again, and I eventually moved there. The impact I made in Atlanta allowed people to see that this guy is a good player and you can count on him,” Amuneke said.
“Two days before the final, our coach, Jo Bonfrere, told me that some people were complaining that I was not playing at my best for the team. But in the match, he told me to stay warmed up and, as fate would have it, I scored the winning goal. So I was happy that when I came on, I contributed my own part to the team,” Amuneke continued.
The former Sporting Lisbon striker however, insisted that beating Brazil really boosted the confidence of the Dream Team.
“Going into the tournament we had the self-belief that if we applied ourselves well we could do something great for ourselves and the country,” said Amuneke.
“Don’t forget we had some players who featured for the senior national team at the 1994 World Cup. But beating Brazil boosted our confidence because it was a dramatic match. We were almost out, but we fought and pulled it off.”