Bob Marley inspired my dreadlocks – Ikpeba
…says Monaco made him true prince
By JOE APU
Sunday, January 29,  2012

 Ikpeba

Victor Nosa Ikpeba, dubbed the ‘Prince of Monaco’ in his playing days, has taken a look back at his career and said in retrospect that he, in fact, enjoyed himself both on and off the pitch. The striker, who first made a mark with the Scotland’89 Eaglets, told Sunday Sunsports the game of football made him the star he is today and that he does not regret his time with the Super Eagles and his various clubs he plied his trade with in Europe.

“I’ve had great time playing football and my time at Monaco was really great. I was treated truly like a prince and indeed everyone else in the team was treated alike,” Ikpeba said. “It goes to show the value they attach to their players. I still have fond memories of those beautiful days.
“Since quitting the game actively, I often find myself wanting to go back to the field of play.

I must say that I miss scoring goals and the atmosphere that goes with it. It’s fun and I feel great about it.” On the national team, Ikpeba noted that the state of Nigerian football deserved a change, which must first start with our domestic league.
“What will make our national team strong again is a good and competitive national league. The Nigeria Premier League needs to be strong with quality players.

“I recall in my era that for anyone to make the national team, that player needs to be fantastic to merit a place. We all should help and develop our league as well as our youth programmes. All hands must be on deck because there’re no minnows in football again. Little known football playing countries are working harder to make name for themselves.

“Further to that, is the issue of age falsification, which has ruined our football. But this is the time to curb the menace once and for all. We can get it right if we can come together and agree on the fact that our youth football championships must not be win-win all the time. European and American nations see such championships more as developmental programmes than a must win games.”

He stated that it’s unfortunate that the players in the national team in the present dispensation are not giving their best, hence the failure of Nigeria to reach the finals of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations. Ikpeba, a soccer analyst, played 30 international matches and scored three goals for Nigeria. In his days, he played without any form of hairstyle as he is seen today. He revealed that his new-look with dreadlocks is nothing accidental.

Towards 2000, I had so many challenges in my life that left me really low in spirit, but listening to Reggae musicians like Bob Marley and the Wailers, Peter Tosh and Gregory Isaac, inspired me greatly. They helped to uplift my spirit through their songs and that was why I decided to wear dreads. I feel inspired with it.”

Speaking on his most exciting Nations Cup outing, the former African Footballer of the Year recalled that Senegal’92 was great because it was his first, and winning third place against Cameroon was just exciting.
Also, down the memory lane, Ikpeba explained his reaction after his penalty hit the crossbar and came out, noting that his reaction came on the spur of the moment. “We went into penalties in that game against Cameroon when it was already dark and I did not see if the ball had gone in or not and for me, the linesman and referee did not do their jobs.”

Ikpeba, who played at the FIFA World Cups in 1994 and 1998, and also helped Nigeria to win the 1994 African Nations Cup and the Olympic gold medal in 1996, noted that the future of Nigerian football would be bright if all concerned decides to work as a team.

Belgian club, RFC Liegeois after the 1989 FIFA Under-17 World Championship, took the former Julius Berger striker. At the age of 20, after scoring 17 goals in the 1992-93 season, Ikpeba was bought by French side, AS Monaco, then coached by Arsene Wenger, where he gradually became a success, albeit with a tough start. He showed outstanding form subsequent to the 1996 Olympics, scoring 13 league goals to help AS Monaco win the league title. His performances earned him the African Footballer of the Year award in 1997.

While at Monaco, Ikpeba nearly signed for Italian club, Reggina, but his wife, unwilling to give up life in France, locked him in their house on the day he was to sign his contract.

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