Imama Amakapabo, Ayo Ibidapo and I at the Lagos Airport
We
had to watch the Olympic Games group game between Nigeria and Sweden and as
soon as it ended at 1 am on Monday so we made a choice between sleeping and
staying awake.
We
were told we had to be at the airport at 4am but we decided to sleep anyway and
wake up at 3am. That’s a two hour session of shut eye.
Watching
Nigeria play Sweden was a massive project anyway as we had to battle sleep to
see the game through.
Nobert
Okolie did not even watch the game. He woke up with a start every time I reacted
to something I was seeing to also exclaim like he was watching anyway.
However,
we saw that one through.
Ayo
Ibidapo, Nobert Okolie and I were about the first to arrive at the Murtala
Mohammed International Airport in Lagos and then the other began to turn up.
Check
in and boarding were no issues and at 7am we were airborne to Casablanca.
Threat to my life
In
Abuja, whilst applying for visas, I met coach of Rangers, Imama Amapakabo who
told me it would be good to have me in Spain so we could sit and talk at night.
When
a Port Harcourt boy tells you he wants to sit and talk with you at night, you
know you will be drinking things, evil things.
I
did not want to drink o. So I knew my survival strategy would be to avoid Imama
Amapakabo all through our time here, but I think he would turn out to be the
least of my problems.
Four hour wait in
Casablanca
We
landed in Casablanca (not that one in Port Harcourt) at about 11am and our
connecting flight to Madrid would be at 3:45 pm and then we began to mingle to
kill time.
 

Tunji Brown, the brain behind Owu Sports wears

I
paired up with Imama Amapakabo (that Port Harcourt boy again), Ayo Ibidapo and
Amobi Ezeaku (the young Team Manager of Rangers International).
First
things first you have to know about Amobi is that he can talk boredom to death.
A very lively person who always has something to say about every situation.
I
brought out a book and started reading while Imama was fiddling with his phone,
apparently tweeting and enjoying himself.
He
even showed me a video or two on twitter whilst I wondered how he did it. Was
he roaming data? Then he must be a “Big Boy” because I had turned off my data
roaming so I do not get bankrupt before I return to Nigeria but “ashame” no
gree me ask Imama.
Apparently
he sensed my predicament and asked, “You know there’s free wifi here, do you?”
Chai!
I screamed out. And I’ve been reading this book since? I actually told Imama
off for not telling me on time and hooked up. I told him how much I hated him
for enjoying free wifi while I read a book.
In
his defence he said he thought I was enjoying the book so much that I did not
care about wifi. Who doesn’t care about free wifi?
LMC
chairman, Shehu Dikko, former chairman, Nduka Irabor, Rivers United General
Manager, Okey Kpalikwu and Barrister Chris Green joined us as we were about to
leave for the boarding gates.
We
saw a sports shop selling, of course, jerseys and stuff and Shehu Dikko said, “If
any club chairman buys a foreign jersey, he will be sanctioned.”
Of
course that was a joke but we got the picture.
Okey
Kpalikwu asked if there was any League law like that and Nduka Irabor said the
law had just been created right there at the airport.
My
only joy about that conversation was that I now had an excuse for those people
who asked me to buy Barcelona, Madrid and Sevilla jerseys. I can’t do that or
else I will be sanctioned.
When
I come back, I will give you Kano Pillars, Sunshine Stars and Ikorodu United
jerseys.
Yes!
Thank you Shehu Dikko and Nduka Irabor for rescuing me on this one.
Another threat to
my life
As
we were boarding, Chief Nduka Irabor nudged me and said he had to go to a duty free
shop to buy some high end drinks because of the Port Harcourt boys on the trip.
 

Alloy Chukwuemeka, Emeka Inyama, Chris Green and Shehu Dikko in Madrid Airport

When
I asked who the Port Harcourt boys were, he said it was me, Imama Amapakabor
and Chris Green. Chai! High end drinks? Okay na. How could I dodge him sef?
It
was a less than two hour flight from Casablanca to Madrid and on landing,
General Manager of Warri Wolves, Moses Etu made a snide comment, “I thought
they said Ronaldo was very popular here. I thought I’d see his big picture
handing down the walls?”
I
answered by suggesting that may not have been the only airport in Madrid so
maybe he has his picture hanging down in the other one.
But
Etu was bent on getting at Ronaldo and continued to talk about it.
To
get our bags, we had to get on a train from one part of the airport to another
and as we waited for the bags to come, Imama Amapakabo and I shared some Port
Harcourt stories while Ayo Ibidapo listened in amazement at the “war films” we
acted in Port Harcourt between 2002 and 2011.
The reception
party outside
Now,
if for any reason you thought this LaLiga tour was one hurriedly arranged
racket, then you are very wrong.
On
our exit from the arrival lounge there was a whole team of staff from the La
Liga office waiting to attend to us.
It
seemed a very big event for them here in Spain and I got wondering why we didn’t
talk about it as much in Nigeria.
There
were two luxury buses on ground to take us to the Madrid train station enroute
Valencia and at least ten La Liga staff guiding us along the way.
We
got on the train. I was in coach 11 alongside Nduka Irabor, Shehu Dikko, Chris
Green, Moses Etu, Mike Idoko, Fred Edoreh, Imama Amapakabo and some others and
as soon as the train moved, Chief Irabor brought a bottle of whiskey (Double
Black) and offered me a whiff.
I
politely said no, thank you. He then offered me a beer and again, I said no
thank you. Chaii! Chief looked at me and exclaimed, “You are a fake Port
Harcourt boy. Or are you trying to deceive us that you are a cool guy?”
 

Shehu Dikko talks to the Valencia press on arrival

I
could only just smile as the likes of Fred Edoreh, Moses Etu, Imama Amapakabo
and chief Irabor himself got their groove on.
Sitting
next to me was Barrister Chris Green who immediately brought out his Ipad to
play a game of scrabble. Me too, I had an Ipad so I brought it out and was
watching episodes of Being Liverpool. Chai! Brendan Rodgers sef.
The
rail trip was for two hours and then two buses were on ground to take us to
where would be our home for the next couple of days- NH Hotels.
There
was also a TV press crew on ground who held interview sessions with some
players, the head coach and the LMC chairman, Shehu Dikko.
Funny
thing was that, on arrival in Valencia, our room keys were given to us on the
bus.
We
got to the hotel, had dinner, or something that looked like it then went to
sleep. I was so tired I couldn’t even play one hand of Football Manager or type
this diary.

1 COMMENT

  1. The Ikwerreman always have his own unique way of making a long epistle an interesting read with his infusion of humour & sarcasm.

    Anyway, me no dey gbadu oyibo club jersey, except of course it belongs to the greatest club of them all…AC Milan.

    Just get me as many of the local club jerseys u can cos I luv donning it. The 'Abia Warriors' jersey Sanipe gave me has helped in spreading the good news of Nigerian football & its league, anytime I proudly wear it.

    So pls sir…Enyimba, Sunshine Stars, Kano Pillars, El Kanemi Warriors and even that MFM jersey wey u dey owe me…bring am for me make I wear am with pride an dignity.

    Enjoy urself & safe journey to the fro!

    Ghanaman signing out!!!

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