NFF appoints Finidi George… Here’s what to know about him

 NFF appoints Finidi George… Here’s what to know about him

Jose Peseiro, who guided Nigeria to an Africa Cup of Nations silver medal, left the team in February when his contract expired, leaving Nigeria without a permanent coach.

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has named former international Finidi George to serve as the interim national team coach.

While the NFF continues to look for a new manager, the 52-year-old will lead the Super Eagles into the friendlies against Ghana on 22nd March and Mali four days later in Morocco during this FIFA international window.

Finidi George was Peseiro’s assistant and has been handed the temporary reigns of the national team but who was he before that? 

Finidi George’s love of football was sparked on the fields of Calabar Rovers FC in Cross Rivers state and Sharks FC in Rivers state while he was growing up in the energetic metropolis of Port Harcourt.

Finidi travelled to Europe, initially joining Ajax Amsterdam. He won eight major medals during his incredible tenure at Ajax, including the coveted UEFA Champions League in 1995.

From left, Danny Blind, Edwin Van Der sar, Finidi George and Nwankwo Kanu at Ajax in 1995

His outstanding performances attracted the interest of other European clubs, which resulted in stints of success in Spain with Real Betis and a brief stint in England with Ipswich Town.

George made his debut for the national team in 1991, providing four assists and one goal for the legendary Rashidi Yekini. In fact, George’s goal on October 8, 1993, in a pivotal qualifier in Algiers versus hosts Algeria was the one that sent Nigeria to her first FIFA World Cup finals.

Additionally, on June 19, 1994, in the FIFA World Cup proper, he made a crucial contribution to Nigeria’s victory against Bulgaria by using lightning-fast and accurate crosses. Most notably, he assisted in the goal that gave the nation its first-ever World Cup goal in Dallas, USA.

George was a right winger throughout his playing career. He participated in two World Cups for the three-time African champions and helped Nigeria win the AFCON in 1994.

In September 2021, Enyimba FC appointed Finidi as their new head coach. He won his first title as a coach last season when the Elephants lifted the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) title in Lagos.

Finidi wasn’t the only professional football player in his family. Two of his brothers also played football.

Between 1985 and 1995, Alari George was a well-known football player who played for Udoji United, NNPC Warri, and Sharks of Port Harcourt. Before returning to the Nigerian league, he played in Cameroon as well. He retired in the middle of the 1990s.

Sadly, the life of another well-known George family football player was cut short. In 1995, sorrow befell Finidi amidst the splendour of his athletic accomplishments when his younger brother, Igeniwari George—a gifted football player himself—died tragically following a cup match at the Lekan Salami Stadium in Ibadan between Rangers International and Stationery Stores.

Fans have expressed both enthusiasm and scepticism over Finidi’s selection to the Super Eagles. Could the former winger lead the national team from the dugout with the same on-field skill?

Finidi’s influence is felt well beyond the football stadium, even outside of his coaching pursuits. His unwavering love for the beautiful game is demonstrated by his dedication to developing young players and upholding Nigerian football’s heritage.

Also read: Uzoho, Maduka, Iwobi… List of Super Eagles players cyberbullied

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