Retired Nigerian footballer, Adebayo Gbadebo, says his father was totally against his choice of becoming a professional footballer and refused to pay his school fees after he earned an invitation to the Super Eagles.
Gbadebo, head coach of Suphanburi in the Thailand Premier League, stated this during a virtual interactive session at the monthly Ex-University of Ibadan Footballers Association on Sunday.
In the past, education was a priority for most Nigerian parents, who insisted their children went to school, rather than indulge in sporting activities, and former Stationery Stores midfielder Gbadebo incurred the wrath of his father, who refused to pay his tuition fees for disobeying him.
He said, “My parents did not support my going into football. I was discouraged. Though they knew that I was good in the game, my father stood against it. Parents then only wanted you to go to school. I thank God for that, if not I could not be here today as a graduate of the premier university in Nigeria. I thank God for a father who will take his stand at every point, and remain on it.
“I was playing for several clubs like 7Up, Union Bank and Railways. It was when I was with Railways that they decided to play in the second tier of the league, and they moved the team to Lagos. When we went for NUGA Games in Port Harcourt, I was selected to join the Super Eagles in camp. I was in the hall one afternoon, I was told my father was looking for me. He came all the way from Lagos. I took him to my room, he brought out a newspaper and showed me a page, while asking me if that was my name among the players invited to the Super Eagles camp. I answered in the affirmative, he left there and then. I was in my final year then. That was the end of his sponsoring me in school because I disobeyed his orders.
“I was not much bothered then, because I had a team, Railway FC, that were ready to pay me some sign-on fees, and a good salary. I had to rough everything though, it involved my travelling to Lagos daily to train with the team. It also made me remain focused to achieve what my parents didn’t like, and what they liked. I was happy that at the end of the day, I did not disappoint them, neither did I disappoint myself.”
The 46-year-old also encouraged footballers to combine the game and education.
He added, “It all depends on the quality of the player. If you are good, clubs will come for you and support you on how to succeed in your education. But if you do not have the qualities, just concentrate on your education and finish up.”
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