Former Super Eagles’ goalkeeper, Carl Onuoha Ikeme has shot his mind back to some of the glorious days he enjoyed while starring from Wolverhampton Wanderers of England and recalled that one of the best had to be when he wore the club’s captain’s band, megasportsarena.com reports.
Although Ikeme had to drop his gloves unceremoniously two years ago, when a bout with blood cancer put an end to his career, he is still filled with nostalgia and memories of sheer delight on his mind when he lined out to perform skipper duties for the West Midlands outfit
It came in the days when Wolves were still competing in the lower division of English football and Ikeme, who starred for the Molineux Stadium outfit all through his career, recalled how he played as stand-in captain for the club in an FA Cup third-round clash with Stoke City on January 7, 2017, which his side won 2-0, and he cherished nursing a great feeling several days after.
Sadly, Ikeme could not be part of the Wolves’ squad after they gained promotion to the English Premier League at the end of the 2017/18 campaign, as he had already been forced to retire from the round leather game few weeks after emerging into remission from Acute Leukaemia, of which he had been diagnosed in the summer of 2017.
Nonetheless, he still holds some fond memories of his happy days with Wolves, especially their FA Cup victory against Stoke, who were then in the EPL, but he recounted how his team fought with all they had and approached the game without any fear, which accounted for their strong performance and he was equally able to pull off some top saves.
The now retired shot-stopper, who appeared in 205 games for Wolves all competitions, even as he had spells out on loan at eight different clubs within an eight-year period with the Molineux outfit, also noted how happy he was with Nigeria’s Super Eagles, with which he got nine caps.
He went on to garner six clean sheets and the Eagles lost just once with him in goal, while three matches ended in draws, but, having failed to represent Nigeria at any major championship, Ikeme admits that the biggest memories he has about the game were with Wolves, especially the glorious day three years ago, when they beat The Potters in the FA Cup.
Prior to the fixture, Wolves had not won in the competition for almost six years, but goals from Helder Costa and Matt Doherty was enough to see them progress and, much to the delight of the now the 34-year-old former shot-stopper, the West Midlands club went on to beat Liverpool 2-1 at Anfield in the fourth round before bowing out in a 2-0 home defeat by Chelsea in the fifth.
Ikeme recalled: “I was made captain that day. I gave my family the captain’s armband and my shirt. I think it might have been the only game I was captain as well for Wolves. So that was another special occasion, to take the captain’s armband.
“It’s another great feeling and another responsibility. I was always one of the more vocal players in the dressing room anyway, but when you’re leading the side out it gives extra importance to that. It was a difficult time, but we’d just started to turn a corner in the league.
“After what we experienced a few seasons before – being relegated from the Championship – there were little fears that could happen again. But we were just starting to pick it up. I think QPR away was around the same time as this game as well, and we’d just picked up a result there, which gave us a bit of momentum and said, ‘We really shouldn’t be in trouble this year.’
“We weren’t going there just to make the numbers up, or with any fear. It wasn’t my only good game in a Wolves shirt! But it was one of those games where I just kind of caught fire, and it didn’t stop. We were in the Championship at the time and Stoke were struggling in the Premier League, to be fair, but still had a lot of quality.
“There was a lot of quality on display that day, so it was still a tough game and a really good result for us at the time. It was an FA Cup game and I remember we had a decent cup run that season which I hadn’t really experienced at Wolves. It was one of those games where I just seemed to make save after save and we got the result as well, which is always important when you have a good game.”