Q&A with Siasia
Samson Siasia was one of the finest strikers to ever play for Nigeria. Born in Accra, Ghana on August 14, 1967 to Nigerian parents, the young Siasia eventually set foot in Nigeria for the very first time in the early 1970s.
Siasia displayed precocious skills as a youngster from his days at Saint Finbarr's College, Lagos where he was spotted by a certain coach Appiah.
He eventually starred for Lagos University College before signing his first professional contract with Lagos club, Julius Berger.
Siasia subsequently had playing stints at El Kanemi Warriors and Flash Flamingoes before he eventually moving to Europe to join Belgian club, Lokeren.
The skilful striker impressed with 31 goals in 151 appearances in an eventful eight-year period and then he moved to France where he netted four times in 40 appearances for FC Nantes between 1993 and 1995.
Siasia eventually called time on a glorious playing career in 2000 after tasting action in Australia and the Far East.
He made his Super Eagles debut in 1984 and scored 16 goals in 51 appearances in a career that spanned 15 years.
Siasia remains one of the few Nigerians to have played and managed his country’s national team.
On November 4, 2010, he was named as the national team coach to succeed Swedish Lars Lagerback. He was fired on October 28, 2011 for failing to take the Nigeria team to the 2012 African Nations Cup in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
Siasia had a sit-down with SuperSport.com and opened up on the circumstances surrounding his controversial sack and the current state of Nigerian football.
SuperSport.com: Former Nigeria international and legend, Adokiye Amiesimaka recently described you as one of the best coaches to ever manage the Nigeria national team. How does such words of commendation sit with you?
Samson Siasia: Adokiye Amiesimaka is a very blunt man. He says what he thinks without minding whose ox is gored. He has his own views of people when they perform. It’s not like I asked him to say these things. I have only met and spoken to him about once or twice.
SuperSport.com: How would you rate yourself as a coach at youth level having managed the Nigeria Under20 and Under23 sides?
Samson Siasia: I don’t think it is right to pass judgment on one's self but I believe my track records speak for me. I led the Flying Eagles to a place at the Under20 Fifa World Cup final and also the Under23 side to the final of the football event of the Olympics. No Nigerian coach has ever done that.
I am not trying to boast. It is in the records for all to see.
SuperSport.com: Many expected you to translate your success at youth level to the national team set up but it didn’t happen. Why?
Samson Siasia: I signed a wrong and bad contract with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF). They (NFF) did not want me to come with a lawyer to look at the contract papers. (It is believed that a clause in Siasia’s contract stipulated that he leads Nigeria to a place at the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. Nigeria did not qualify for the tournament)
My belief was that Nigeria would qualify for the competition with the kind of players I would pick for the qualifying games.
That was why I signed the contract even though I knew it was a bad contract.
SuperSport.com: You are much loved by Nigerian football fans with many clamouring for you to be named head coach of the Nigeria national team in the first place. Why are the fans so charmed by you?
Samson Siasia: I do my job with a lot of passion. Even from my days in the Under20 team, I never held back because of the love I have for my country.
I assembled the lads from early 2005. Isaac Promise, Chinedu Ogbuke, John Mikel Obi and the others. The chemistry and great bonding helped the team reach the final at the Olympics in 2008.
SuperSport.com: What sort of reception did the team get for getting a silver medal at the 2008 Olympics?
Samson Siasia: Nothing! Not even a handshake. Look at what happened to the South African athletes that won medals at the 2012 Olympics in London. They were rewarded and thanked for doing their nation proud.
Nothing of the sort happened with us after the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. It doesn’t necessarily have to come in the shape of cash rewards but just calling up the lads together and appreciating them would have been great. But then, it’s our country, what do we do?
SuperSport.com: There were issues raised as regards your remuneration during your time as Super Eagles’ coach….
Samson Siasia: Yeah, we all know what the white man (Lars Lagerback) was paid. I asked for N10 million (about $60,000 USD) as monthly salary but they refused to meet my demands when (Lagerback) was earning about N15 million (about $92,000 USD) monthly.
I asked for that amount of money because it was important not to be influenced by the Europe-based professionals who are usually in the habit of flaunting cash before coaches.
If a coach is well-paid, it becomes impossible for such players to even attempt such.
SuperSport.com: Would you accept the opportunity to coach the Super Eagles again?
Samson Siasia: Yes I would but with like minds.
I am afraid to say that the current members of the NFF have no idea what they are doing and it would be impossible to succeed with them. They refused to see the future, the bigger picture. They will have to leave if I am to serve as national team coach again. We need to have the people in the federation.