Jonathan Akpoborie is arguably the most prolific forward of Nigerian decent in the history of German football.
Akpoborie started his professional career at Julius Berger, before moving to United State of America.
He went on to play for 1. FC Saarbrücken, FC Carl Zeiss Jena, Stuttgart Kickers, Waldhof Mannheim, before finally joining top-flight F.C. Hansa Rostock, VfB Stuttgart and then VfL Wolfsburg.
He was selected by Nigeria for the 1992 and 2000 Africa Cup of Nations where he won bronze and silver medals respectively.
Our correspondent Daniel Ozeghe caught up with him (Akpoborie) during Our live coverage of the NCC Tennis League Cup match in Lagos between Team CBN Futures and Team Tech Vibe on Sunday, October 1st 2017 when he came to show support to the sport.
In this interview with Tennisng.com he opened up on his believe in Nigerian tennis players and coaches.
Good afternoon, Jonathan. How’ve you been?
I’m very fine, thank you Daniel.
Are you aware that most people don’t know that you’re enthusiastic about tennis?
Yes, I am. Many footballers and sportsmen in general have got love for other sports asides the one they’re popularly known for. An example would be Rio Ferdinand who recently expressed his desire to become a professional boxer. Usain Bolt is another example as well as Michael Jordan. I play tennis a lot these days.
We know you so much for football but let’s talk about the fact that you’ve been watching tennis, encouraging these young one’s. What have you seen concerning their talent and and what do you think they need to take their game to the next level?
Wow! I think it is actually a general problem in Nigeria regarding talents because we need to actually produce more competitions like the NCC Tennis Cup for them to compete. When I go to other counties like Germany I see all of these same talents as a matter of fact they are not as talented as the lads we have in Nigeria but they have different tournaments as well as programmes for everybody all through the year. By the time these guys are growing up they go automatically into the ATP but in Nigeria they play one tournament today, next maybe in three or four months they play another one. The break is a big problem. We have talents in Nigeria all through all the sports. In tennis I’m surprised that we have so many players and it is surprising that the number of tournaments is not just enough. The NCC Tennis League is like gold.
How do you analyze the young ones you’ve seen?
Like I said, the sky is the limit but we have to organise more tournaments for them to compete in because the competitions bring a lot of improvements for them and it will be welcomed for Nigerian tennis if we do that for them.
Final words. Don’t you think they need some tactical coaching to enhance their game?
I think Nigeria is covered in that area because we have a lot of coaches. I’ve seen them around doing their job, trying to mentor the players. The problem is actually these tournaments that we organise for them especially the young ones so that they can grow into the ATP and WTA tours as the case may be.
Many thanks for your time Jonathan
You are welcome Daniel.