Hard work is non-negotiable for Kelechi Nwakali if he hopes to put his fading career back on track, according to Emmanuel Amuneke.
Nwakali burst into limelight after captaining the Nigeria U17 team that paraded the likes of Victor Osimhen and Samuel Chukwueze to win the 2015 U17 World Cup in Chile.
His inspiring displays earned him the tournament’s Golden Ball ahead of Lille’s Osimhen and Mali’s Aly Malle. Nwakali’s stock rose after joining Arsenal on a five-year deal from Nigeria’s Diamond Football Academy.
And after failed loan expeditions at MVV Maastricht, VVV Venlo and Porto B, the youngster was shipped out of the Emirates to Huesca in January.
Before football went into a hiatus owing to Covid-19, Nwakali did not play a single game for the Spanish second-tier side.
As questions continue to emanate on why the former teenage sensation has failed to justify his ratings, 1994 African Player of the Year, Amuneke - who worked with him as coach of the Nigeria U17 team - opens the lid on his stuttering growth.
“There is nothing to doubt about Nwakali’s talent. There are some qualities that are natural gifts from God and he possesses them,” Amuneke told Goal.
“As a player and coach, I have seen a lot of good players and midfielders but the kind of quality Nwakali possesses is what I have not seen in any other Nigerian.
“He is a kind of player that can see beyond what other players are seeing, a player that has a vision and a player who can play a ball that can result in a goal.”
The African football great pointed out some reasons on why Nwakali is not living up to expectation like Osimhen and Chukwueze, and suggested ways on how he can return to his best once again.
“No doubt about his quality, but in the context of being an African, there are a lot of factors that can hinder their growth. Most of these players are from poor backgrounds and a lot is expected from them,” he added.
“Also, most of the agents that surround them never tell them the truth. The good thing about Nwakali is that he is still young and has age on his side.
“All he needs to do is counsel himself and realise that when you forget the root that took you to success, you start to lose the beauty of what made you who you are.
“A lot of Nigerians are expecting his progression but it is unfortunate because of what he has passed through over the years. He also needs to check the kind of lifestyle he is living and know that without football, he is a nobody.”
“The only thing he must do to bounce back is to work very hard. To some, working hard is an abomination because we believe in godfathers and have to pay money to be someone. We must not forget that the highest contact we can have is God who deposited this talent in us.
“So, it is mandatory to work very hard to complement our God-given talents. Hard work is non-negotiable in terms of success and without that, suffering and endurance you can never be anybody.
“Even when things are not going well, it is up to him [Nwakali] to be calm because everyone and everything in this world have its time. I can only hope that he will work hard to be back again.”