Considered as a household name in the Nigeria Premier League with Shooting Stars and Warri Wolves, Super Eagles striker, Gbolahon Salami, reveals how his wife brought success to his football life, and many more.
What went wrong with the contract signed with Serbian club, Red Star Belgrade, and how would you describe your performance in Warri Wolves?
I am so happy because my performance has marked me out for glory. Of course, hard work
and perseverance were the secrets behind my successful season with Warri Wolves last year before that move to Red Star Belgrade in Serbia in January, even though the deal eventually failed. I have no regrets at all. Besides, I am also happy because I played for the Super Eagles, which has always been every player’s dream.
I must also thank Stephen Keshi for believing in me and giving me an opportunity to play in the Super Eagles despite claims that I am a stubborn player; that I don’t listen to coach’s instructions. He changed my game and I now see myself as a player that can make things happen.
The perception of many is that you are a stubborn player. Do you agree?
No. People will always have different views about one irrespective of who one is and what one is in the society. As for me, I am not surprised that some people think I am disrespectful, which I believe isn’t true because they don’t know me. For the record, I am still Gbolahon Salami and I will always take the game serious due to the passion I have for it. I am an easy going and coolheaded player; I don’t care what people say about me. I just want to concentrate on my game.
It is obvious that people can do anything to ensure they bring one down in order to achieve their aim. Anyway, we live in a world where freedom of speech is not paid for and it is expected that anything that comes out of a man will definitely attract people’s interest.
Because of your attitude, you have been described his a brother to Italian Maric Balotelli. Do agree?
My brother, I don’t want to talk about this issue because I have no relationship with Balotelli. My way of life is different from Balotelli’s and I don’t see myself playing like him. As I told you earlier, I am Gbolahon Salami and I share no resemblance with Balotelli.
Has anything changed in your life since you married last year?
I am happy to have joined the league of married players. In fact, my wife is all I have. I love her so much. Getting married to her has really brought good fortune tomy life. Now I am having quality playing time with the Super Eagles, which is why I am happy that I got married. Of course, there are more goodies still coming on the way which I believe will be better for our marriage.
In addition, my wife is the heart and soul of whatever I am doing because when I was single, I could do anything I liked without considering other factors. She has added positive value to my life, which I know money can’t buy. My attitude must change if I must make my home a happy one. Marriage in every man’s life brings about new things and I am hoping and believing that things will change for good.
From the way you were looking at your friends that came for your wedding, you seemed to have been overwhelmed. Why?
I won’t lie to you, the presence of my colleagues during my relief. I was overwhelmed by the atmosphere of the wedding. Their support was so massive that I can’t just recount everything to you. One thing is clear; they are friends indeed.
Did your parents support your dream to play football?
My parents supported me right from my childhood. In fact, they love. They are always there for me whenever I am in need and I am glad I have them as parents.
Of course, every parent’s dream is to see his or her child educated, however, mine wasn’t different because I had the opportunity to choose between the two, and I chose football. I don’t have any regrets chosing football ahead of education. I am happy with what I am doing right now. For as long as you do what gives you joy, what else do you want? That’s why I am always grateful to my parents because supported my football career. More so, I am grateful to my agent, Yomi, who encouraged me, starting from the grassroots level up to this level. Even when I had my ban in Shooting Stars in 2008, my agent stood by me like a father and was always there to motivate me never to give up. No matter what happens in life, I will never leave him.
Are you fulfilled being part of the Super Eagles squad under the technical crew of Stephen Keshi?
To be frank with you, I am overjoyed to be part of the Super Eagles squad, because it’s not easy. Besides, if I didn’t work hard I don’t think I would have been called by Keshi.
If you were to assess your 2014 performance, would you say you reached the height of your game?
I believe I do what I know I am capable of doing and I am glad that I had a good performance in 2014. What else can I ask for when my game has changed for good. Playing for the Super Eagles and rubbing shoulders with the likes of Mikel Obi, Emmanuel Emenike, Ogenyi Onazi and co makes me feel happy.
Though it’s painful that we didn’t qualify for the Nations Cup, I am positive that the next edition won’t be approached in the same manner. The players know that there are no minnows in African football any longer and that every game should be taken serious if we must qualify for the 2017 Nations Cup.