Lionel Messi with the Ballon d’Or trophy
The Chairman, House of Reps Committee on Sports, Godfrey Gaiya, said Wednesday that Nigerian footballers lacked the discipline and commitment to win the FIFA World Footballer of the Year Award.
Gaiya was reacting to the 2012 FIFA Ballon d’ Or won by Barcelona/ Argentine striker, Lionel Messi, his fourth in a row.
He told NAN in Abuja that every Nigerian player was a potential winner of the award but noted that they needed to put some extra effort to measure up to Messi’s standard.
“Talent is talent; you don’t buy it with money. Everybody that can play for Nigeria is a potential world football award winner.
“However, it is not enough that you play for Nigeria and for a club in Europe. You need a cutting edge talent that will put you above your peers. That doesn’t come with just a wish because it's hard work and discipline.
“As it is, I am not convinced that we have the potential of getting there because our players lack discipline and the commitment to get there,” Gaiya said.
The legislator dismissed suggestions that football administrators had not done enough to take
the players to that level.
“There is no level of administrative acumen that can translate into a player being named the best in the World.
“Messi is the best not because the Argentine Football Federation has done anything more than the country has done.
“Rather, Messi has excelled because he has done so much at club level, which is far from the level of government commitment, funding and encouragement,” he added.
The House member explained that former Liberian team captain, George Weah, became the only African so far to have won the award in 1995 because of hard work.
He added that Weah’s football commitment manifested in Liberia, when he used his personal funds to bankroll the National team.