DELE ALAMPASU: My prayers and focus for 2019

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After missing out of the Super Eagles’ squad to the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018, goalkeeper Dele Alampasu is charting a new course for himself and a departure away from Cesarense in the Campeonato de Portugal is certainly on the offing, reports MORAKINYO ABODUNRIN.

He sorely missed out of the Super Eagles’ squad to the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 but former junior international goalkeeper Dele Alampasu is looking forward to 2019 with renewed optimism.

Regarded as one for the future after he guided the goalposts for the victorious Golden Eaglets at the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup in the UAE, the 21-year-old Alampasu has since struggled with his fledging career at Portuguese Primeira Liga side, Clube Desportivo Feirense, before he was farmed out on loan to Cesarense in the Campeonato de Portugal- the third tier of Portuguese football.

“This is my last season here (at Cesarense) and my prayer for next year (2019) is for God to help me move forward in my career,” the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup’s golden glove award winner offers in an interview with The Nation on the eve of his birthday on 24th December 2018. “By the grace of God, this will be my last season here and I keep praying to God for big breakthrough in my career.

“ I’ll keep working and hoping for God to give me a good place to go so that I can continue with my career from there.

“Having challenges is part of life and the good thing is that I’m coping well with what I’m facing here. After all, driving on a smooth road only doesn’t make anybody a good driver; sometimes you have to ride through the bumps too.

“This is not the time to give up; I’m ready to fight and succeed in my chosen career as a professional footballer.”

After his heroics with the Golden Eaglets in 2013, Alampasu has also featured for the national Under-20 side (Flying Eagles) and was part of the squad that reached the second round at the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand. He has earned only one  international cap with the Super Eagles but surmised it wasn’t for lack of efforts but that he had been stalled since coming on as a second half substitute for Ikechukwu Ezenwa in the 3-0 thrashing of Togo in 2017.

“I still feel good about what I achieved at youth level especially when I remember how I was named the best goalkeeper at the U-17 World Cup and it is an added motivation for me to do better,” says Alampasu who featured for Abuja College of Football before travelling abroad. “That things are not going the way I planned doesn’t mean I should give up; that I’m not going somewhere.

“I’m in constant touch with Coach Gernot Rohr and he wants me to be playing regularly for my club. Unfortunately, I still have other senior goalkeepers ahead of me in the club and it’s therefore as easy as that. I’m still learning and waiting for my time.

“Maybe If I go on loan to another club, I would be able to play regularly. The coach (Rohr) wants me to be playing and I hope everything will be better very soon.”

Surely, Alampasu is not the one to brood over setbacks; rather, he said he was pulling his socks in order to fulfil his huge potentialities.

Hear him: “It was my dream to be at the Russia 2018 World Cup after being part of the qualification process but I believe there are still many World Cup for me to look up to. I don’t have what the coach wants at the moment; I’ll keep working to ensure things get better for me.

“I’ve learnt a lot since I came to Portugal; this is my fourth year since I moved over to Europe. It would be bad if I’d not learnt anything and it would mean I’m not enjoying what I’m doing. I enjoy what I’m doing and I’m really grateful for what I have been able to do so far. I just have to remain focussed and with the experience I have gathered here, I can get better and move forward in my career.”

Alampasu’s present situation notwithstanding, experienced goalkeepers’ trainer Emeka Amadi believes he can overcome his present challenges by taking the bull by the horns, adding that his experience in Europe would on the long run bolster his confidence to feature for the Super Eagles.

“I have no doubt in my mind that Alampasu is a very good goalkeeper, after all I picked and trained him in the national Under-17 team and it’s always a thing of pride that he was adjudged the best goalkeeper when we won the World Cup in 2013,” says Germany-trained Amadi who is currently working with Emmanuel Amuneke in Tanzania. “But it’s about time he set new objectives for himself especially if he’s not been playing regularly at his present club.blank

“Football is a practical thing and the more he has the opportunity of keeping the better he can be and he should be looking for a club that he would be much needed than going on loan to another club.

“He is still young and all these experiences would help him. He has a bright future ahead of him but he has to set bigger objectives for himself and I believe he will get his break with the Super Eagles if he gets good playing time at club level.”

But Alampasu holds no fear about his future except injuries which is the bane of any athlete. “The major fear for any footballer is getting a serious injury that could stop one’s career and I have such fear too. While we think about all the good and positives side of the game, we must also think about the bad times too.

“But I leave that to God to take care of my career. It’s my prayers to be going one step after another and not to have any major injury that can take me off the game.

“You can’t rule out knocks here and there but it’s my daily prayers to God to keep me away from injury that could end my career.”

Meanwhile, Alampasu has spoken further about his life even beyond the goalposts in this interesting conversation. Excerpts.

On qualities of a good goalkeeper

It’s simple and I think one of the things that make a good goalkeeper is for you to be reliable and you must have confidence in order to assist your teammates.  It’s not about creating an impression. Being the best goalkeeper at the FIFA U-17 World Cup is quite different from what I have to face here in Europe. Some people in Nigeria think it’s easy but the truth is that most clubs already have goalkeepers who have grown through their youth levels. Some of these goalkeepers have gathered so much experience unlike what we have in Nigeria or Africa whereby you see a lot of young goalkeepers in the league. Here you have to still learn and wait for your opportunity. I have been given opportunities which I think I’ve used well. But they still tell me I have to learn more. It’s a long process to get to the top and that is why you don’t get to see many African goalkeepers in Europe.  They usually turn them back once they see that they lack the basics. So, I’m biding my time and learning as much as I can and I know there would be no looking back if I get the chance.

On his choice of automobiles

Jesus Christ! I don’t have money for big cars. I drive only Peugeot. I’m not here to do any competition with anybody. I’m fine once I see anything (car) that can take me to and back from training. Everything has its time and now is the time for me to wisely invest in my future so that I can have something to fall back on when my career is over. Of course I can afford to buy a car of five million naira but what value would that add to my career now? It would be a big shame if one becomes a beggar at the end of one’s career. Having a big car is not an investment to me because its value would depreciate with time. Unlike car, I would rather invest in landed properties because I know it would appreciate in later years.  I have projects I’m working on and once I’m done, I can think of buying something bigger to drive but I’m not ready. Everything in life is about time. Once I’m done with what I’m doing, I would like to have a Mercedes Benz

On his progress since arrival in  Portugal

I’ve learnt a lot since I came to Portugal; this is my fourth year since I moved over to Europe. It would be bad if I’d not learnt anything and it would mean I’m not enjoying what I’m doing. I enjoy what I’m doing and I’m really grateful for what I have been able to do so far. I just have to remain focussed and with what I have gathered here, I can get better and move forward in my career.

I have no idea about what can really make me sad and, secondly, I have no reason to make myself sad. I’m a happy child and I don’t think too much about the negative aspect of life. I have to be positive and know that everything will be okay and fine with me. Thinking and worrying will only bring me down; I only have to think about moving things forward. Of course, there would also be difficult moments in life that can make someone sad but I try as much as possible to overcome such things.

On goals and aspirations

I have goals but I think its process by process and I believe God will help me to become what I want to become in the future. Although it is not easy, as a professional I just have to face the challenges and cope with the difficulty, which is part of life.

On fashion

Of course, you know me too well that I’m not the kind of person that is crazy about fashion. I don’t worry myself about what to wear or what type of shoes to put on. I have more interesting things to do and work on than being crazy about fashion. I’m working on my own house and other stuffs; and I’m also thinking about taking care of my family too.  I just wear anything that makes me look good, but there’s no point doing big boy around based on what you wear. I don’t waste money on clothes.

On marriage

Everybody has their own plans and when the time comes, I’m going to do my marriage. I already have someone I’m dating; we’ve been together for about four years now. Everything is cool between us and we already have a daughter. By the grace of God, we are going to be together for life and when we are ready, we are going to do the marriage.

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