Veteran Nollywood actor and multi-award winner, Charles Awurum, talks about his love for Arsenal, the Super Eagles and his early playing days in the Principal’s Cup in 1979 in this interview with PETER AKINBO
Were you involved in sports while in school?
Yes, when I was in school I played for Ansar Ud Deen High School then, during the Principal’s Cup around 1979. I played 7 and 2 sometimes. I was a good player, if not I would not have made the team that went to the competition. We didn’t go that far though because the likes of CMS were there and those were the tough teams then, too good at that time.
Was there a point you wanted to pursue football?
My father did not give me the chance to do that because he wanted us to study well. If you like play football, but you just have to pass your exams. So, we spent most of our time studying than playing football.
Do you regret not pursuing a career in sports?
If football was the way it is now back then, I would have thought of having a career in it, but it was not like this then. It was not so easy back then to move forward in the game; the best we could do then was just focus on our studies and grow our talents.
Which is your favourite football team?
Now, my favourite team is Arsenal. I have been supporting them for many years now. I really started supporting Arsenal because of Nwankwo Kanu. And after Kanu left the club, I still support them. Kanu is always my favourite player though.
How do you feel about Arsenal’s recent success in the league?
I am so happy about it because there was a time that Arsenal used to make us cry. In those days, they were inconsistent; sometimes they did well, and then they will do badly.
With your current form, do you think that this is the season you will win the league?
I don’t think we can win it, we will win it. We are winning it.
Even if I don’t watch other teams, I must watch the Super Eagles when they play, up until now. They are my team and I can go with them to anywhere. The only difference is that now whether they win or lose, it doesn’t bother me much, but then if they lost, I felt so bad. The reason it doesn’t bother me much anymore is that they are making their money and I am crying, for what reason? They can’t be making the money, all of them are billionaires and I will be crying that they lost. If they know that they are out there to make money, let them go there and make the money. So, if they that are directly concerned are not bothered, why will I be bothered? The thing is that we have players but that push is not there, that determination to really succeed is no longer there.
Do you think that the quality of football has dropped between the 1994 Eagles and now?
I will say the enthusiasm for football in Nigeria has dropped because most of the players don’t really know what they want; they just go to play and come back, whether they lose or not, they don’t care. Before, people play with all their might, their strength, and everything about them to bring some faith in football in Nigeria. Now, they just wear the jersey, go to the field and come back, look at how we didn’t qualify for the World Cup and I am not really sure they are that bothered. If you see them, you will see that they are not really bothered about qualifying, so you can’t be crying more than the bereaved.
Who do you think is the best African footballer of all time?
I think it is Austin Okocha. He did a lot for Nigeria and football. He never won the best African footballer award, I don’t know how they selected the best players then. Okocha deserves an apology for not getting a Best African player award.
Who do you think is the best footballer of all time, some say Lionel Messi, and some say it is Cristiano Ronaldo?
Nothing about some here, there is no argument. Messi is the best player of all time, he is the best, and any other person is just trailing behind him. No, it is not close at all, no other person is close, and they are just strolling. All that one Ronaldo is doing is luck, it is not like he is a very fantastic player, it is just luck and determination, he is somebody that can do anything because of football, so it rewards him.
If any of your children chose sports, would you support them?
My father did not stop me from doing what I wanted, so, why will I stop my children from doing what they want to do?
Do you still participate in sports sometimes?
Yes, I jog sometimes, it is necessary for someone of my age to participate in these things to keep the body healthy.