Football in general and the Nigeria Professional Football League has a long list of bizarre tales but possibly none comes as crazy as what you are about to read.
Former Sharks, Kano Pillars, and Calabar Rovers goalkeeper, Imama Amapakabo actually stopped a game in the Nigerian League because he needed to take a toilet break or maybe he faked one in a bid to get a result for his team.
In the early 90s while playing for Sharks FC, he stopped a game in Lagos for a few minutes to take a toilet break.
This happened in the Old Nigerian Professional League Division One, also known as Pro One.
Imama was first choice goalkeeper for Sharks FC and was in Lagos with his team to play against Nigerdock FC when the incident occurred.
Amapakabo told NigerianFootballer,com that he needed to take a toilet break to save the game for his club and explains how.
“You know being a goalkeeper gives you a lot of privileges though a lot of people don’t understand or take advantage of them.
“I have always said that I am a very small man to play in that position so most times I have to recreate a lot of things to help myself or my team,” Amapakabo said.
The immediate past coach of Nigeria’s U23 National Team told NigerianFootballer.com that his team was under so much pressure in that game against Nigerdock FC and were at breaking point when he thought of the best idea to calm down nerves and ensure his side got back into it.
“It was still goaless at the time and we were under pressure, so much pressure that we had to calm the pressure one way or the other.
“Sometimes I look at goalkeepers now and see how they fall down regularly in our league games and I get angry even at clubs that I coach. I get angry at the fans watching because they just accept it.
“It is like paying for a ninety minute movie and people are short-changing you because you watch for just sixty or fifty minutes, yet they do not complain because they probably score a late goal that wins the game for them and they celebrate it,” Amapakabo explained.
“The only thing I could do for my team was to say I was going to ease myself when the pressure on the pitch became too much for me to handle.
“I am a goalkeeper and I was not being substituted but I was dead pressed so there was no way the referee could have continued the game without me if I wanted to go to take a toilet break, so I had to be excused from the game while they waited for me to return,” he told NigerianFootballer.com.
Well, the game indeed stopped for the five or so minutes that the mischievous goalkeeper was tucked away in the dressing room and he returned to the game as the full house of spectators gave him a standing ovation amid wild applause.
“The game stopped so I had to go to the toilet and come back to continue the game. By the time I returned, we were well settled, we discussed amongst ourselves and the game continued.”
The fans had no idea
Even though he returned to a standing ovation and wild applause, the fans could only speculate as to what happened previously.
“They didn’t understand and a lot of them may have been asking questions like what could have happened. I’m sure a lot of them came up with different reasons for what happened but I also believe a few would have known why I went away,” Amapakabo said with a grin on his face.
“Like I said, it was it was to ease the pressure. It was so much, but ironically we lost the game.”
Imama’s blunder caused the loss, regardless
Despite the fact that he took a toilet break to ease the pressure on his team, Sharks eventually found a way to lose the game, courtesy of a blunder by the goalkeeper himself.
He had tried to play a regular trick he would do to avoid a collisions when a lone attacker was chasing down a loose ball bouncing towards him, but it didn’t quite work on the day.
“Yes, we lost one nil eventually and it was my fault,” Imama said.
“It was one of those things I would do regularly and it works, but on the day it just did not work and I got it wrong.
“There was this trick I do regularly, because, like I said I am not a big person and I used to like to use my hand to tip the ball over the heads of players instead of entering collisions with them.
“But it rained that day and the ball was heavy so this time I tried to do it and it hit the head of the player and went into the post for the only goal of the game which was totally my fault.
“I remember I had a confrontation with Adokiye Amiesimaka (the club chairman) after the game. He said some things I didn’t like and I said some things too, but I believe we were all good later,” Amapakabo said.