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Football | Nigeria

Etafia joins the legends



It is unusual for a foreign goalkeeper to spend a decade at a club.

That is a feat Nigerian goalkeeper, Greg Etafia, has achieved at Premier Soccer League (PSL) side, Moroka Swallows.

Soweto has been the home of Etafia since August 2002 after arriving from Nigerian side, Plateau United as a teenager to replace former Nigerian international, Idah Peterside.

Etafia, who was Nigeria’s first-choice goalkeeper at the football event of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, has not only spent a decade at PSL side, Moroka Swallows, but is set to hit a legendary figure in the PSL history.

Although he played for only two clubs in Nigeria, Etafia has become a one-club player in the PSL.

It is a remarkable achievement for a goalkeeper.

With 299 starts for the “Beautiful Birds,” the former Under17 and Under23 goalkeeper will join Bidvest Wits midfielder, Tinashe Nengomasha, as the only second player still active in the Premiership to reach the milestone of 300 games for one club, if he takes to the field against Bloemfontein Celtic, this Sunday.

Etafia becomes the second Nigerian after former Flying Eagles goalkeeper, Willy Okpara, who achieved the feat at Orlando Pirates.

Okpara, who won the Caf Champions League with Pirates in 1995 is now a goalkeeper coach at the club.

Only a few retired players have achieved the feat in the PSL history.

Despite his absence from the Super Eagles, Etafia has made a mark in the beautiful game.

Interestingly, he remains one of the few players to evolve from Nigeria’s poorly organised youth set-up.

Back in 1999, Etafia was in South Africa for the defunct Uefa/Caf Meridian Cup with others like Joseph Enakarhire, Chidi Odiah, Abiodun Agunbiade, Ifeanyi Okagbue and Rabiu Baita amongst others.

The goalkeeper was part of the Lobi Stars squad that won the Nigerian league in 1999 and became the third Nigerian side to reach the group stage of the Caf Champions League in 2000.

Internal politics at Lobi eventually led to his exit to Plateau United.

In his 10 years at Swallows, Etafia has won three trophies: the 2004 Absa Cup, 2009 Nedbank Cup and the 2012 MTN8 Cup.

The goalkeeper, who was first capped by Nigeria at full international level in May 2003 against Ghana, has since received his South African passport.

Name: Greg Etafia

Present Club: Moroka Swallows

Former Clubs : NUB Kaduna, Lobi Stars, Plateau United

Honours

Nigeria: 1999 Nigerian League, Group Stage 2000 Caf Champions League, bronze medal 2004 Africa Cup of Nations

South Africa: 2004 Absa Cup, 2009 Nedbank Cup and 2012 MTN8 Cup.

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