Former Junior international and ex-Super Eagles Star Dimeji Lawal has sensationally declared that the emergence of the mercurial Finidi George marked the end of his career in the Super Eagles in the 90s.....CONTINUE READING
Speaking as a Special Guest of the Ex-University Ibadan Footballers Association virtual interactive program yesterday, Dimeji Lawal, popularly called Kabongo by his numerous fans, declared that the emergence of Finidi George and preference by Clemens Westerhoff ended his Eagles career even before it clearly kicked off. According to the speedy winger, who was on the books of Spanish giants Real Madrid at the time, “Westerhoff single-handedly played a role in my setback with the national team but he cannot be blamed for creating a perfect replacement in Finidi George, who, without doubt, remains one of the best in our position. My utmost respect to Finito’ he declared.
Dimeji Lawal, at the height of his career, signed for Real Madrid in 1989 alongside Mutiu Adepoju and Chris Ohenhen of the Daman Miracle fame but found playing time incredibly difficult gave reasons why the trio could not break into the Madrid first team. According to him, “My signing for Madrid was a long story of fulfillment. I couldn’t have dreamt that football would take me to Santiago Bernabeu one day, not to talk of seating in the same dressing room with Hugo Sanchez, Michel Salgado, Bernd Schuster, Oscar Ruggeri, George Hagi, Robert Prosinescki, Emilio Butragueno, Canizares, and Fernando Hierro amongst others!”
Speaking further, he said, “My first setback was that in those days, there was a quota system as you could only have 4 foreigners registered and only three could play in a game, unlike now that the system has changed drastically. So looking at the aforementioned superstars, we can all understand why it was so difficult to become a part of the first team. We had a few opportunities to play with the first team in some friendly games but not in an official league match.”
Nonetheless, Lawal was grateful to God for the privilege of playing at that level. According to him, “With the array of talents at Madrid at that time, unfortunately, I could not edge out the foreigners above me because football and representation go beyond just the leather object. But no regrets. While I was signed by Madrid, my younger brother Muyiwa also signed for Atletico Madrid. I thank God for the uncommon privilege and honor” he concluded.
Dimeji Lawal was a strong member of the U-17 team to Canada ‘87 and the U-20 team to Saudi ‘89 where the teams ended as silver medalists on both occasions.