*NFF shocked by the news, prays for his recovery
By Duro Ikhazuagbe
Nigeria and Wolverhampton Wanderersâ€™ goalkeeper, Carl Ikeme, has been being diagnosed with acute leukaemia and is to begin chemotherapy immediately.
The Championship club announced yesterday that Ikeme, 31, returned “abnormal blood tests” during pre-season testing and further checks confirmed the diagnosis.
Since taking up the number one goalieâ€™s responsibilities for Nigeria following the sudden retirement of three-time World Cup star Vincent Enyeama from international football in October 2015, Ikeme has remain consistent and dependable for Eagles.
Many football aficionados believe his absence from Eagles due to injury was why South Africaâ€™s Bafana Bafana recorded their 2-0 famous win over Nigeria last month in an AFCON 2019 qualifier in Uyo.
He was in goal for the Super Eagles over two legs of the 2018 FIFA World Cup preliminary round against Swaziland, as well as the 2-1 defeat of Zambia in Ndola at the beginning of the group phase of the 2018 FIFA World Cup race.
Ikeme was also in action against Tanzania and Egypt in 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying matches, and in friendly games against Mali and Luxembourg in Europe last year summer.
While reacting to the news of Ikemeâ€™s ailment yesterday,Â the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) expressed shock and dismay.
A stunned NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, was lost for words after the sad news broke in the international media. â€œWhat? This is very, very sad. Carl Ikeme diagnosed with acute leukemia? This is harsh.â€
Sanusi stated that the NFF and the Nigerian football family would rally round the energetic shot â€“stopper in his difficult period.
â€œOur thoughts are with Carl at this difficult period. The NFF and the football fraternity in Nigeria are taken aback by this sad development, knowing how strong Carl has been in goal for Nigeria since he made his debut in 2015.
â€œWe have been told that he will start chemotherapy immediately. We want him to stay strong and remain the self â€“assured man that he has always been, and we will continue to pray for him and wish him the best with regards to the treatment,â€ Sanusi concluded.
Ikemeâ€™s club Managing Director, Laurie Dalrymple, also said everyone at Wolves is in shock and sadness at the moment.
“It would be an understatement to say that everyone at Wolves has been shocked and saddened to hear the news of Carl’s diagnosis.
“That relates to both players and staff as Carl has been at the club for a very long time and remains such an integral personality within the group.
“At the same time, we all know what a fighter and a competitor Carl is, and I have no doubt that he will take all of those attributes into this battle.
“Similarly, its goes without saying that Carl and his family will receive the full love and support that we at Wolves can provide – we are all with him every single step of the way towards a full recovery,” Dalrymple told BBC sports yesterday evening.
Ikeme has been with Wolves for his entire career, making more than 200 appearances for Wanderers.