I decided to write this piece because I knew Emeka was too humble to write it himself. I've been working with him for four years now and he still surprises me with his positive and progressive outlook on life. He wants this business to run without it being all about him, but I think they are one and the same. Modern Legacy Football Academy is the business, and he is the legacy. The first Nigerian born player to play for Ireland! We should be proud to have someone like him working in Irish football, and I am so glad that he is starting to get some recognition -recently with The42.ie article.
This probably has not happened until now because he doesn't see himself like that. He didn't see himself as a trail blazer or a history maker.
"I didn't mean to be inspiring or motivational. It was just me."
He began playing street football with his friends in Nigeria before moving to Ireland. His individual flair, speed and playing style was what distinguished him as a player and he had his underage Irish debut when he was 14. He went on to live at Man City and West Brom for six months each, before returning to Ireland to play for Athlone and Bray. Passport difficulties prevented his transition to Premier League football.
Every barrier I see against him, he brushes off. As the article says, "he refuses to see himself as a hard-luck story". He sees his passport difficulties and his playing career being cut short as what was meant to be. His optimism, self-belief and infectious energy is something we all need more of. Anyone who has met or worked with him, even for an hour, would see these things immediately and be inspired.
I think that this style, speed and freedom of expression is what he tries to instill in his players. This allows great players to emerge in front of my eyes when I see the kids he coaches. Their confidence with the ball, creativity and competence is something I have seen so many coaches strive for years to create- he doesn't need years to get his players to believe in themselves.
-Elizabeth Smyth, Assistant Head Coach at ML
IRL v Wales, 2004
Emeka playing for Bray Wanderers, 2015
After School Elite Programme
October Camp Coaches, Halloween Theme