February 18, 2015 – Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) President Amaju Pinnick held what was generally described as an “extremely positive and encouraging” meeting with the Manager of English Premiership side, Arsenal FC, Mr. Arsene Wenger on Tuesday.
The legendary manager met with the NFF supremo in his office at Arsenal FC’s training ground where a wide range of issues were discussed, including the rising stock of Nigerian-born players at the club – players like Chuba Akpom and Semi Ajayi.
After the meeting, the NFF President, who was accompanied by the new Special Envoy for the Federation on International Affairs, Tunde Adelakun, said: “As we had always known, Arsene is very knowledgeable; vast in his knowledge and appreciation of Nigeria as a footballing country, and widely philosophical in his general approach, ” he said, assuring that, contrary to what is reported about some clubs in Europe trying to steer their players to play for the countries where they live, Wenger was emphatic on what should be.
“He told me that he has never stopped any player from opting for whichever national team he wants. He said to me that he always tells his players to follow their hearts and not allow people to push them. He further assured that if Nigeria extended a call-up to either or both of his players, he will have no objection if the players say they want to go”.
Pinnick had led the charge to Arsenal to enlist Wenger’s support in “the process of rebuilding the country’s football” and he was not disappointed.
“Arsene told us that he will gladly do what he can to assist where we want, and has already started giving encouraging signs towards the capacity building exercises for our coaches at all levels”.