Abdul Sule: From Denmark To Lokoja | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Abdul Sule: From Denmark To Lokoja

Posted: May 17, 2015 at 1:13 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

The Nigerian ex-international is back to his home state, Kogi after over a decade of sojourn in Europe where he played the game to a fulfilling height. His immediate brief is to lift the status of the game in the state, Uzor Odigbo writes.

The rise and rise of Kogi State born ex-Nigerian international, Abdul Sule, in football could be described as another case of miracle in a career that leaves little to hope for in Nigeria.

In just one year, he survived the obscurity of Nigeria’s lower leagues to playing for the Nigerian senior national team, the Super Eagles.

Abdul Sule

Abdul Sule

This was, during the days of Clemens Westerhof’s as manager of the national team. Then, any footballer aspiring for a national team placement needed something special to get into the Super Eagles. Sule did it in just his first year as a Professional League division one player.

Originally from Kogi state in North Central Nigeria, the young Sule was born and grew up in Kaduna, North Western Nigeria where he horned his footballing skills. From there, he has been to other countries and eventually found a safe pasture in Denmark.

In 2013, he got the call from his home state of Kogi to come home and help revive the fortunes of the state-owned teams. For him, it was an offer he couldn’t refuse.

“Even though I grew up in Kaduna, Kogi is my home state and when I got the call, it was impossible to say no because I had always wanted to give back to the society. I was already involved in a youth foundation in Denmark and set up a replica in Nigeria. Probably that was what some people saw and got interested. I came back and got the job of Technical Director of Kogi United and Confluence Queens, both owned by the state government. I’ve since been moved to Technical Adviser and, recently, Chairman of both teams. I have used my influence to secure favourable deals for them from Hummels and I can boldly say that we are one of the best-kitted teams in the country in terms of quality. It is a long-term project and, by God’s grace, Kogi United will soon be a force to reckon with in the country.”

Domestic Football Career

Though tribes and tongues differed, one common factor that joined him with these other kids was their love for the game of football. Sule’s talent was noticeable.  After secondary school, he teamed up with his first youth club, Shenton Marafa FC, a neighbourhood team for which every kid wanted to play. Again he stood out as a striker for the team and his fame went far in the Kaduna metropolis. A budding talent, Sule was not making as much progress as he desired until he met with late coach Abdullahi Bebe who turned football career arround.

He recalls: “Coach Bebe and I lived in the same neighbourhood and I knew he was handling NUB FC, a division two team at the time. One day he came to watch us play and I guessed he was impressed with my performance because he offered me the chance of a trial with NUB. It was a dream come true for me and I could hardly eat because of excitement. I went and trained with the team and I got signed on. Just like that.”

Sule was with NUB for three seasons and won his first trophy when they clinched the Kaduna state FA Cup in 1991. That victory, however, signaled the end of his romance with the club. Coach Bebe, surprisingly was offered the job of managing Stationery Stores FC of Lagos, one of the most fanatically supported side in Nigerian football. It was going to be a challenging job because Stores’ fans demanded immediate results and were known to be impatient with the handlers of their team.

Stores were FA Cup champions in 1990 but crashed out of the CAF Winners’ Cup in the first round in 1991 so the fans were hungry for silverware.

Truly, the performances did not go unnoticed as Sule, with teammate Ganiyu Ajide were invited to the national team which was playing the qualifying series of the 1994 African Nations Cup as well as the World Cup. This was no mean feat for Sule who had barely completed one full year of top-flight football but Westerhof must have seen something special in him to be so enamoured of the young player who was just approaching his 19th birthday. Because of the quality of attackers in his team (with Rashidi Yekini at the height of his reign as Africa’s deadliest striker and Daniel Amokachi, Samson Siasia also doing excellently well in their respective European clubsides), it was difficult to get a game but rather than give up on him, Westerhof converted his new found jewel to a defender.

Eagles debut and Professional career

Sule made his international debut against Uganda in a Nations Cup qualifier and helped the team to a 2-0 win on August 29, 1992 at the National Stadium Surulere.

His stint with El-kanemi was very brief, lasting just two months, before he jetted out to Asia to join Qatar Sports Club where he played for two seasons before moving to Europe to sign for Denmark’s Herning Fremad. He was at Fremad for three seasons before crossing to bigger Akademisk Boldklub where he spent five years, scoring 30 goals in 137 games to emerge second all-time top-scorer for the team. He won the Danish FA Cup and the Super Cup in 1999 and helped them to a second place finish in the league and, though he left in 2004, he’s still highly regarded at AB till this day for his achievement with the club. He moved on to Koge BK for a year before leaving for AC Horsens for another season. In 2006, he left Europe for Malaysia to team up with Johor FC but, after two seasons, he was soon on his way back to the familiar terrain of Denmark to join Falster Alliancen for one season.

Coaching Career

Sule blew the final whistle on his career at the end of the 2008 football season.

Retired but certainly not tired, he got employed by top scouting agency, European Sports Managent (ESM) to work as Consultant/Project manager while working on getting his coaching badges. By 2010, he qualified with a UEFA B coaching certificate and led the Danish street soccer team to European glory in Germany even as a rookie coach.

This feat obviously impressed HIK Copenhagen which promptly engaged him as youth coach. Again, like he did with the street soccer side, Sule led the HIK youth team to victory in an international cup competition and he was deployed to the first team as reward for his industry.