Ediale Kingsley interviews Jude Odion Ighalo’s Agent Aneke Atta. Atta’s Chief Scout, Udia Attai, was also around to provide answers to the football journalist’s questions.
“Fifa Super-Agent. Emefie Aneke Atta. Man beside Jude Odion Ighalo. Nigerian. Nowaygean. Superman”.
Today, Ighalo wears a 25 numbered Manchester United Jersey. The story is a sweet one but a lot of background works by the football agent repping the talented Nigerian are behind the scenes.
And this is why Ediale decides to have an exclusive with the agent. Read the conversation:
As a strong influence in Africa Football, doing a great job of discovering and managing talents to commercial success. What has been the standing focus, landmark success and basic challenges for you and your work?
The focus has been on talent, discipline and hard work. A lot of players have the talent and probably love the money that comes with the game, but lack the discipline and determination to take their career to the next level. The landmark success for us has been the ability to consistently discover and transform young talents to professionals doing well in their respective clubs over a short period of time. The Greatest challenge is in spotting the next talent. It has become increasingly difficult to get top quality players. A decade ago u could just take a stroll to next street and find something interesting. Today you need a lot of scouting, traveling and patience to spot talents.
You made history with Jude Ighalo. Tell us what we don’t know about your vision and work with the super striker?
The relationship between Atta Aneke and Ighalo is more than a player-manager Relationship. It was easy with Ighalo because apart from being a top talent, he is a player with an Impeccable Character and a professional to the core.
While in Norway Atta had some offers, but Udinese was better for his development. Locomotive Moscow called and offered him 4 times his wages in Udi. He spoke to Atta and Atta told him the money in Lokomotive was very good, but not the right move for his career. He went to Udinese to build on his career. While playing for Watford many Agents Approached him to switch Agents but he refused. It’s difficult to find players working with one Agent for 13 good years. He is a role model for young players.
We know it gets very busy doing what you do. But do you think Africa and Nigeria are on the right path concerning the development and discovery of her many talents?
I will say some African countries are doing good like Senegal. I was in Senegal they had lots of age-grade programs, good facilities, and standard facilities. But Nigeria as a whole, after the Under 17 what else? You hear Under 15 and others here and there but nothing really comes out of it. I think the major issues as it concerns with the discoveries of star talents lies in Academy. You have thousands of Academies in Nigeria but a lot of them with the wrong motives. Not about discovering talents. They want to make money. And it’s not as if you can’t get talents from these academies. You go round and you see one or two but a lot of them have wrong priorities for these kids. You see a young boy of 17. He probably has a guardian or agent who is in charge of him. The next thing they are thinking of how to money immediately from this young man. Now, now, without thinking of his future as to which country will he go to? how will he develop into being a future Ighalo, Iheanachor, and others? I will say only a very few academies are interested in the development of these talents. Majority are not interested, they just want to make the money.
For instance, you have a player of 17 with prospects. He should be going to certain countries to develop, where his talents can be honed and polished so he becomes something great. It can take 2 or 3 years. But you see an offer come from a country like Kazakhstan, Albania, even Iran or Qatar promising to pay some good money for the young man. Before you know he travels there, he makes some good money for his family. The agents take his own. You may never hear of the player again. You understand. It’s only in rare cases that you see the player lucky enough to redirect his steps and it is usually very difficult. I think the majority of academies are just interested in money over the interest of the player. But some few are there who still care in the development and projection of these players to the right places. Patiently waiting on the talents to develop and hopefully, when they become something in the future everyone is happy. So its a yes and a no answer.
What’s the easiest way for fresh talents to get your attention these days?
The easiest way for talent to get my attention, for instance, is performance. When we go round watching, I want to see quality, how he performs, his game, seriousness, his approach towards the game. Basically the talents approach to a game, how he responds, opens up, the passes, how he reads the game. And his character too off the pitch of play, this gets my attention as well a lot. I look for this talent and the response to game. And how he reacts outside the pitch. These are some things I look forward to.
You have been a force what are your deliberately achieved goals thus far?
Speaking of achievement, We don’t want to say we have achieved this or that. But it gives us joy to be able to spot raw talents and project them to teams as they become something great in future. I think there are some satisfaction that comes from that but I want people to be the ones to decide on what we have achieved and not us.
Your archive is full of talents, expose the most talented 3 to us. Particularly, the ones we should expect to rule the world in the nearest future.
(Laughs) you are trying to put us at a spot here. I don’t want to sound like I believe in some players over others. But we really have some exciting players. Probably, I believe every one of them have the potentials to become something special for their club and Nigeria as a whole. Players like Jordan Attah Kadiri who plays at Östersunds FK and Chidera Ejuke of SC Heerenveen are one of the many players that are doing so great. I just believe all of them have the potential to become great in the nearest future.
Atta represents players from France, Gambia, Nigeria, Norway, Ghana and other parts of the world. He is one of the scarce African agents who practices what they preach.
Peeping through his list of players he reps and you will quickly recognize Odion Ighalo of Manchester United, Chidera Ejuke of SC Heerenveen, Suleiman Abdullahi of FC Union Berlin, Samuel Adegbenro of Rosenborg BK, Ohi Omoijuanfo of Molde FK, Jordan Attah Kadiri of Östersunds FK, Abubakar Ibrahim Aliyu of KÍ Klaksvík and many, many others.
Ighalo’s journey to Manchester United:
— Osun United FC— Bridge F.C— Lyn1896FK— Udinese— GranadaCdeF— CalcioCesen AFC— Watford FC— Changchun Yatai FC— Shanghai Shenhua
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