In the final episode of The Managers Steve Keshi tells Jane Garvey about his journey from playing in secret in Nigeria to becoming ‘The Big Boss’ and leading his country in the World Cup Finals in Brazil this summer.
As they were growing up, Steve and his four brothers were banned from playing the game, and had to do so in secret; it wasn’t until he was playing for the Nigerian junior teams and on TV that he was able to tell his parents that he was playing football.
Keshi went on to become a Nigerian football great and is one of only two people to have won the African Cup of Nations as a player, in 1994 and as a manager when the Super Eagles won in 2013.
He tells Jane about how, after a spell in the Ivory Coast, he was one of the first African players to play in Europe, playing in France and Belgium, and how while he was playing and living in Europe he suffered horrendous racist abuse, which was endemic in the game in the 1980’s and 90’s, and if it wasn’t for his wife he would have returned to Nigeria.
Those events and his playing career as a tough centre half, he says, shaped him as a player, as a person and ultimately as a coach, and he and Jane talk about his coaching philosophy whether he lives up to the nickname of ‘The Big Boss’, how he brings such a disparate group of players from all over the world into a squad which he hopes will surprise the football world in Brazil.
The Managers on BBC World Service
You can listen to The Managers on BBC World Service on Saturday 14th June 2014 at 18:06 GMT, and on Sunday 15th June 2014 at 11:06 GMT. For further details of broadcasts of this programme on BBC World Service, please visit bbc.co.uk