Home News I Couldn’t Sleep After First Eagles Call Up – Tanimu

I Couldn’t Sleep After First Eagles Call Up – Tanimu


New Super Eagles invitee, Benjamin Tanimu, who features for Tanzanian side Ihefu, talks about how he felt when he got the invitation for Nigeria’s friendly matches against Ghana and Mali, his time in the NPFL with Bendel Insurance and many more in this interview with ABIODUN ADEWALE

Congratulations on your invitation to the Super Eagles for the upcoming friendlies against Ghana and Mali. What were you doing when you got the invitation and what was your first reaction?

I was in my hotel room, camping ahead of a league game when I got the news, and I was like wow! I couldn’t contain my excitement and then congratulatory messages started popping on my phone. I was just pacing in the room with excitement as I replied to the messages. The feeling was special.

Since that day, have you been able to sleep normally and go through your daily activities without having to think too much about it?

That particular day I couldn’t sleep until 1am, but since then I haven’t been thinking too much about it because I have league games to attend to and things must be taken one at a time.

Just about a year ago, you were in the U-23 team as well. How was the experience?

That experience was amazing and being the first time I was called to represent Nigeria, it’s unforgettable.

You were singled out for your brilliant performance for the U-23 team, any regrets not qualifying for the African tournament leading to the Olympics?

It’s a big regret, I must tell you. Everyone wants to play at the Olympics as it’s a lifetime opportunity, especially for footballers. If you are older than 23, you stand no chance again because the over-aged players that would be invited to join the team are usually from the senior national team. So, I wasn’t happy that we couldn’t make it.

At the U-23 camp, you displayed pictures you took with some Super Eagles players who were training in Abuja as well then. How excited are you, knowing that you will be sharing a dressing room with them soon?

Honestly, I didn’t think my invitation to the Super Eagles was going to be this soon. When I met the likes of (Victor) Osimhen, (Alex) Iwobi and others in Abuja last year, I was just wishing I would be in the national team like them one day. I didn’t imagine we would be training together this soon. It was cool being around those great guys. That feeling makes me feel more excited and at the same time it keeps me cool and  focused on my game.

Looking back at your journey, what are the situations that prepared you for breakthroughs like this in order to fulfil your dream of playing for Nigeria?

Looking back, I will say it again that it’s a dream come true for me to have come this far and it’s just the start. I’ve always wanted to become a footballer and watching the national team on TV as a child till now has always been a motivation. There is a little bit of luck in life but as an individual who is seeking opportunities, I have trained hard and tried to improve with every game when given the opportunity. Starting from the street of Ogbe in Benin City, it wasn’t easy, but all the same, hard work pays. Having good people around you also matters a lot and I thank my family for the mentoring and encouragement. Above all, I’m grateful to God for granting me this big opportunity.

In September last year, you were rumoured to have joined a fourth-tier Spanish club Lleida Esportiu. How were you linked with them in the first place?

I was surprised when I saw the news too. I wasn’t even interested in leaving the NPFL to play in the fourth division. When the Tanzania offer came, it was well calculated and I left as I should, not like the other one that I was rumoured to have dumped Insurance, a club that made me.

You recently moved from Bendel Insurance to Ihefu Sports Club in Tanzania. How do you think your time in the NPFL contributed to the dream of making it into the Super Eagles?

Playing in the NPFL is no joke as it is highly tasking and requires you to be on top of your mental game at all times. At Bendel Insurance, our first season in the NPFL after gaining promotion definitely brought a lot of attention to many of us and being consistent playing in the league opened the way. We set an unbeaten record of 21 games in the league and everyone had their eyes on us. The league is without a doubt one of the best in Africa and I thank the NPFL board and the NFF for improving the league and giving me the opportunity for the world to see what NPFL players are made of.

You have also been very key to your new club. Do you think your call up is as a result of moving abroad?

No. Six games in Tanzania aren’t enough to earn me a national team call up. The technical department must have been watching me from the NPFL and also the time I was in the U-23 — it all started from the NPFL.

There are seven other defenders in the squad for the friendlies. What are you looking forward to?

Those are seven great guys and seven experienced tanks to draw from. I’m going to learn new things about playing from these guys and also try to improve my game, then leave the rest to the coaches.

How do you see your chances of getting some minutes in the friendlies?

They are friendly matches and the coaches know what they want to get from the matches, so, if called up for some minutes, it’s my duty to give them my best as well. And yes, I know I must put in the work in training to justify my inclusion. Beyond these matches, it is my desire to return with the squad for upcoming matches and I know that means I must be consistent in training and when I get back to my club.

When you get to camp, who is the first person you are going to video call?

Not really one person but my family then Bendel Insurance keeper Amas Obasogie, and Osarenkhoe Imade.

How was your growing up like?

My dad is from Kaduna my mum is from Jos. I was born and brought up in Benin City. As a result, I understand Hausa even if I don’t speak it fluently, and I also understand the Edo dialect.

So far so good, what are the achievements you are proud of in your career?

Getting to where I am is a big achievement for a young player like me, bringing Bendel Insurance from relegation to surprising other big clubs in the NPFL and winning the Federation Cup after about 43 years for the club is also a big achievement. Also, playing in the CAF Confederation Cup is among them. Now, I am moving from being an U-23 player into the senior national team, and in no time, I will have more achievements to point to for Nigeria; that’s my prayer.

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