Kolkata: It is not coincidence that a player who began his career in India, before representing his country in the FIFA World Cup, once again looked back into the land of billions to start the second chapter of his life.
Nigerian Emeka Ezeugo, a veteran footballer in Maidan now plans to run 1500km from Kolkata to Chittagong, Cox Bazaar and Dhaka and back, to aid the plight of Rohingya refugees. “It distresses me and I am moved to see the condition they live in. When humanity is in distress, it diminishes me greatly and it drives me crazy to go where no one has been before,” he said at a press conference he presided in, at the Calcutta Sports Journalist Club on Tuesday.
Ezeugo, who as a 19-year-old stepped into the field in East Bengal colours beginning a career that would take him miles into distant lands, also competed in the 1988 Seoul Olympics and the 1994 World Cup for Nigeria. In India he also played for Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan SC and is held in high esteem at Maidan for his performance for the latter at the Nehru Centenary Cup.
He almost single-handedly led the Black Panthers to the title in 1990 and for all the love he received for that gallant show it didn’t spring a surprise that the once 6ft defender who was transformed into a deadly striker chose the Mecca of Indian football for his life’s second chapter.
“It is a dream that I had, that spiritually moved me and one that got me from New York to here.” He has decided of a fund raising project to help the Rohingya refugees, by running a 1500km distance. “It will take me a month and a half. I aim to do 30-40km every day,” he said talking of the run which he will start on April 21.
Not everything of the project is finalised but Ezeugo believes he has his mind unmoved and that helping the displaced, remains his only occupation now. “It will not be easy and finding sponsors and partners would be a hard task but I am sure the entire football family will join hands with me for a humanitarian cause.”
“Please, run with me in solidarity to the aid of Rohingya refugees by also donating 1000 rupees/ 1000 Taka to a designated bank account. Let’s make history, where the talking point is our story,” added the former Churchill Brothers player and coach.
He also plans to help the people in distress by organising an ‘All Legends’ match in India where the 1994 World Cup teams of both Nigeria and Italy will play against an all Indian and Bangladeshi XI. “It will certainly happen after the Russia World Cup and I will also put up the jerseys used during the match, on auctions to help the people’s plight,” said the Nigerian.
Fan clubs for Kolkata giants
“To say that East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan SC have the biggest fan base would be an understatement, they have the best fans in the world,” said Emeka Ezeugo who has plied his trade with all the big three Kolkata clubs.
“But the total number of fans are not on record. Hence people think that Real Madrid, Manchester United and Liverpool have the biggest set to fans. Hence I would also use this opportunity to establish on record that these clubs from Bengal are the world’s biggest clubs with the largest support base.
“Every supporter of those clubs must pay Rs 1000 to be counted as a registered supporter of the clubs and the total collective contributions still be equally disembarsed among the clubs as yearly dues. This can be done every year and will not just help the world take notice of the fans but also help the financial conditions of the clubs,” he added.