Posted by Nelson Dafe, Benin City | 30 November 2013 | 5,515 times
Julius Maiga is a Cameroonian football agent of international repute who has overseen the lucrative transfer of young and talented African football players to club sides all over the world. He has been in Nigeria for some years now, as a players’ agent. He also owns a grassroots team in Benin City (J.J Stars) that competed and impressed many at the just-ended Edo State Youth Football League. He confessed his love for the many young talents that Nigerian football has to offer in an exclusive chat with News Express in Benin City following the success of Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets at the Under-17 World Cup in the UAE.
“The performance of the Nigerian Eaglets was very good. If they hadn’t won that cadet World Cup, I would have disagreed with God. Their performance was so good, and I will not be surprised to hear that all of them are signed by top clubs,” Maiga gushes.
Speaking in smattering English coloured by a heavy French accent, Maiga reveals that as an agent, he has worked with many Nigerian players in countries such as Togo, Benin Republic and Tunisia, and that he’s helped them secure good football contracts in Europe and the Far East, adding: “In truth, I must say that Nigeria has the most number of talented players in Africa.”
Some days ago, five players of J.J Stars left for Jordan on trials, and some others are to go to Malta to play trial games there with a view of getting contracts there. Maiga says Nigerian players are usually physically stronger than players from other African countries. According to him, “Where I’m from, players don’t do (menial) jobs as much as Nigerian players do. If you see a 17-year-old player from Nigeria and those of other countries, you can tell that the Nigerians are much more powerful.”
Asked what is the most challenging aspect of working with Nigerian youngsters, the well-traveled agent says: “Young Nigerian players can be restless. When you are managing them they can become easily distracted by another agent who comes along. Also the process of securing the right documents to process visas for Nigerian players can be really difficult.”
Maiga is optimistic that in the next five years, at least five of the Nigerian players he’s managing would have played their way into the national teams of Nigeria.
If reports from Benin Republic that one of his players, Michael Ibe, is being hotly courted to represent that country at the under 21 level, then there must be some genuine reasons for Maiga’s optimism.
•Photo shows Cameroonian player agent, Maiga, standing second from left.
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