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I’m still young, my grey hair is only hereditary –Fanny Amun

Posted by By Kemi Dayo-Aiyetan on 2008/09/21 | Views: 2632 |

I’m still young, my grey hair is only hereditary –Fanny Amun


Fanny Ikhayere Amun, MON, who led Nigeria‘s Golden Eaglets to the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Japan 15 years ago, tells KEMI DAYO-AIYETAN how he discovered his passion for managing football through his “stubbornness”.

Fanny Ikhayere Amun, MON, who led Nigeria‘s Golden Eaglets to the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Japan 15 years ago, tells KEMI DAYO-AIYETAN how he discovered his passion for managing football through his “stubbornness”.

HE used to be a footballer. Then he made the seamless transition to being the coach of the national football team, the Super Eagles.

Then, he also worked in the Federal Ministry of Sports and retired as an assistant director last year.

Ask him why he retired at 45 and he retorts, ”When I was coming into the service, I didn‘t inform anybody, so why do I have to explain to anybody why I retired?”

Fanny Ikhayere Amun could be very frank and a bit controversial.

After much prodding, he opens up, saying, ”I thought I should leave and I left. If I had stayed too long in service – the retirement age is 60 – with all my achievements, I would have staled and constituted a nuisance to the community that made me.

”Already, some have constituted nuisance in sports and I don‘t want that to happen to me.

”I have always been lucky doing things early in life - I was a youthful player, went into coaching too early in life while many of my colleagues were playing for clubs.

”Now that I am retired, they are just doing what I did years ago.

”I left the coaching business in 1998 after 17 years in the national teams; was general secretary of the Nigerian Football Association for two years and a month; assistant director for almost five years and I retired voluntarily.

”For my contemporaries still in that business, I pray they benefit from it.”

But did he benefit from sports? ”Benefits?” he queries. ”After that number of years as a coach, I can say that all traditional rulers, every head of state and other big shots are like my father.

”I can knock on anyone‘s door and it will be opened to me. Not only that, whatsoever I make a demand for is granted by them. This is a grace I have enjoyed before and after retirement.”

Popularly referred to as Fanny Amun, he was born in Osogbo, raised there but was always in Uromi, Edo State, for holidays.

”That influenced my language acquisition because I speak indigenous Yoruba language even more than those from the place,” he says, chuckling.

Reminiscing on his childhood, Amun says, ”I had always been the exceptional child. My father had 17 children and wanted me to be an engineer.

”When he told me, I said I wanted to be a civil engineer and later I told him I was not interested in engineering.

”He was really furious and wanted to send me to live with my uncle in Uromi, who was a pharmacist.

”Though comfortable, my father wanted us to be educated. When his second son told him he had a calling to be a pastor, he kicked against it and declared that he must be an accountant.

”For me, I had always wanted to be different. Then, they would sew same clothes for all of us but I would decline that I would wear something different.

”Maybe my stubbornness paid off because I could not have been where I am today without the trait.

”I was a child of circumstance because by age 17, I left my father‘s house and discovered my passion for football.

”Anytime I went to Uromi, I was always in my uncle‘s pharmacy and opposite it was a football pitch.

”Whenever it was break time, I would be on the pitch with other boys and I remember a day when an argument ensued amongst them, I was able to resolve it and started ‘lecturing‘ them on football.

”Then, there was nothing like playing for money, it was a passion and I went for it despite my father‘s refusal.”

Now as a retired coach, he has exhibited his exceptional traits again. He is a publisher of an international magazine tagged People of Great Destiny.

To even think that he has nursed that idea for many years! ”I was always telling journalists then as a coach, that I am a publisher and they would humorously ask me to employ them,” Amun adds.

”Nobody took me seriously whenever I said this but I knew my dream would become a reality.

”I have a post-graduate degree in mass communication and I have always loved publishing.

”When the magazine was about to kick off, I made up my mind to celebrate people and achievement and not castigate as some media organisations do.

”I am a proud Nigerian and we have various personalities and events that can be highlighted for the whole world to see and read.

”So I churned out my first issue a few months back and I am happy at the response.

”We print in Dubai, but I intend to go to Brazil for the next edition.”

According to Amun, publishing is just an arm of his post retirement plans. The grey haired sports enthusiast confesses, ”I want to go into full-scale charity for motherless children. I want to share their pains, wash their clothes and be on the streets to help them.

”It is an idea I am keeping to myself and when the time comes, the world will see it.”

But will he refer to himself as a successful coach? ”Why not?” he asks.

He continues after a pause, ”My coaching career was a successful one and I thank God. How does one measure success? If I took a team to play a 100 times and they won 99 times, then I am successful.

”Whenever some critics condemn players and coaches because they lost some matches, my reaction is this: compare football with your job.

”You can‘t sit at home or in the club watching football and castigating players or coaches.

”Fortunately, I retired hale, hearty and I am a beneficiary of government programmes.

”I am lucky to have left early to take good care of myself and I am quite mindful of my health.”

His grey hair does not depict old age because he will clock 46 on October 1. ”Maybe it runs in our family,” says Amun, who led Nigeria‘s under-17 national football team, the Golden Eaglets, to the FIFA World Cup in Japan in 1993 with the likes of Nwankwo Kanu and Wilson Oruma.

”My elder brother has grey hair like me and even my two-year-old son. Though some people think that I am older due to my hair and I was at an event where I revealed my age and they said football age is 46.

”Which one is football age? I will be 46 in less than two weeks.”

Married with kids, he denies any comment on that because ”my family and marriage should be shielded from the public. If I like I can marry another wife, if I like, I could also remain monogamous. I don‘t talk about my marriage.”

Rather, he willingly talks about his leisure. ”I love clubbing and I can go to five clubs in a day. I like to relax by either dancing, listening to music and whenever I am in Dubai, I am by the beach. Old age and clubbing? I am not old and I don‘t understand what is meant by old,” he says.

Any temptation from women? ”Maybe it happened and I didn‘t know. I have never experienced any temptation from any woman,” he concludes.

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