The Manager of English Premier League club, Arsenal FC, Arsene Wenger, has pledged to work with the Nigerian Football Federation to help develop football in the country.
The manager made the pledge when he met with the NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, at the 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.
Mr. Pinnick, in a press release, described the meeting with Wenger as “extremely positive and encouraging meeting with the Manager of English club”.
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”.
As regards reports that European clubs discouraging players from playing for countries other than their own, Mr. Pinnick said Wenger said he was not of that point of view.
“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,” Mr. Pinnick said.
“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,” he said.