A former Enyimba Football Club player, Chibuzor Ozurumba has extolled the contribution of the former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu to the development of sports, particularly football in Nigeria, ABN TV reports.
Ozurumba who was in the 2003/2004 Enyimba team that won CAF champions league in two successive times said prior to the administration Kalu in Abia as governor, players were given adequate motivation in terms of welfare.
According to Ozurumba who is the first Nigerian premier league’s highest goal scorer, Kalu, the senator representing Abia North senatorial district whom he said he holds in high esteem raised the bar for the improvement of welfare package of sportsmen and women in the country which others follow.
“Before I came to Enyimba, I was told how Orji Uzor Kalu ordered Felix Anyansi Agwu, the then chairman of Enyimba to make sure be brings me to Enyimba that he needs me.
“When Anyansi told me the story, I could not believe it till Orji Kalu told me in person that Ozurumba I am the one that asked Anyansi to bring you. I was very happy because every player wanted to play for Enyimba because Orji Uzor Kalu was involved.
“I can remember that signing fee at that time was N200k or N300k in many Nigerian clubs. When Orji Uzor Kalu came, he made Emeka Nwanna aka Ayaya the first football millionaire by raising signing fee to N1m and later N1.5 and it continued that way. Ayaya was the first millionaire in Nigeria’s premier league.
“He succeeded in bringing Emeka Ezenwa and other great players. And you remember what happened, Enyimba turned to a global team, conquering Africa, became African champion back to back, something that has never happened before” he said in a chat with ABN TV on Sunday.
While stating that playing for Enyimba then was a thing of pride, Ozurumba who has featured in many amateur leagues and Nigerian clubs said Kalu had a track record of football management before he became the governor.
“I just know that he has this charisma of turning something dull to be active. Maybe that was why he was called Action Governor. Only his presence motivated us. If we planned to score one, we’ll end up scoring 5 because Orji Uzor Kalu was involved” he stated.
Ozurumba, an Imo indigene also extolled the humility and simplicity of former governor Kalu, saying under his watch Enyimba had members from other ethnic groups including Hausa/Fulani.
He expressed regret that a lot has changed in the club.