Boy are they still Crazy Passionate Gooners in Nigeria

Nigerian Gunners en masse
Nigerian Gunners en masse
I wrote a blog in January 2012 when anticipating and Arsenal tour to Nigeria exploring the passionate nature of our support in Nigeria. Sadly the tour was cancelled due to the political situation which was a crying shame as Nigerian Gunners are as passionate as they come.This is what I wrote back then:
All my research tells me that Arsenal  are the best supported club in Nigeria and one Nigerian based Gooner, has suggested this fan base could be as high as a staggering 30 million, 22% of the population. I was astounded to find that Nigeria is the 8th most populated country in the world. So let me give you some context here for our fan base and therefore I guess our market – The combined total population of Sweden, Norway and Denmark is about 50% of the number of Gooners in Nigeria!
About time then that 1ND2OU revisited Nigeria in the third year of Global Gooner Passion starting with Okunola Oluwatobiloba, particularly as 10% of all my followers are from Nigeria which gives us all an indication of the huge support.

Gooners in Nigeria celebrate Cup Victory
Gooners in Nigeria celebrate Cup Victory
 GD66 – Can you introduce yourself first Okunola? Age, background, work, where you live etc?

OA – I’m Okunola Ouwatobiloba. 19. Chemistry student in university in Osun State, although home is Lagos State. Crazy Arsenal fan. I have been following football since age five( that’s the earliest I can remember). Chiefly due the fact that my dad follows football too, which meant that we watched football matches together. Can remember watching the (Euro 2000 semis) Netherlands lost out on penalties to Italy. Holland lost despite playing with a one man advantage for most part of the match. The failed to convert the two penalties that they were awarded during regular time too. Patrick Kluivert et al. What a match that was.

GD66 – The initial swell of support for Arsenal in Nigeria is always attributed to Kanu’s arrival at Highbury. Do you believe that to be the case and are there any current Nigerian youngsters you think Arsenal should be interested in now Chuks has left?

Only Nigerian on the books - Alex Iwobi
Only Nigerian on the books – Alex Iwobi

OA – Sadly, I wasn’t fortunate enough to watch Kanu play live as an Arsenal player. However, it’s quite easy see why he’s the reason most Nigerians support Arsenal till today.  I am very sad that Chuks couldn’t make it at Arsenal. I’ve always thought at worst, he’d make the first team squad due to the promise he commanded then and his versatility. I wish him luck in his next challenge.But then we still have a Nigerian in the academy in Alex Iwobi. He recently signed his first pro contract and hopefully he makes it Arsenal.

Watch out for this guy Arsene
Watch out for this guy Arsene

Beside him, if there’s any Nigerian youngster I’d want  Arsenal to be interested in, he has to be Manchester City’s Kelechi Ihenacho.Blessed with technique and skills beyond his age, he’s undoubtedly the contry’s brightest talent at U20 level. That’s a name Wenger and the rest of the World should definitely watch out for.

OA -Until 2006, I was watched every football match I was fortunate to set my eyes on – mainly champions League matches and major tournaments. But I’d been an Henry fan since as long as I can remember, because my dad was a fan too. It was easy to support Arsenal during the 2006 CL campaign. Albeit Arsenal would go ahead and lose the final to Barca, Henry leaving after that, I made up my mind to continue supporting the Arsenal. Till today, my support has been unflinching. You can say through ” Thick and Thin”, and I’m really looking forward to the upcoming seasons.

With our renewed financial firepower, the British Core and the promise of needed signings, it’s not hard not to be excited.

GD66 – I note there is a sanctioned fan club there https://www.facebook.com/pages/Arsenal-Supporters-Club-Nigeria-The-Official-Arsenal-Supporters-Club/496227380087 Are you involved with them?

OA – No

GD66 – If so do they organise gatherings to watch games with like minded fans or do you have your own group of Gunners where you live? Perhaps describe you match day experience or rituals?

OA – I am sure they do Dave and hundreds of Fans here gather to watch matches. I watch Arsenal matches with mates at the school common room. The Emirates match day is still dream at the moment. Certainly on my list of priorities as soon as I can afford it.

GD66 – I assume Arsenal are the best supported Premiership side by far. Which other sides have a following?

OA – Yes we are. However, Chelsea and Manchester United aren’t far behind. Probably due to recent success. Other clubs are catching up real quick with us Gooners but I hope last season and future success for Arsenal will inspire the next wave of Gooners!

GD66 – Has twitter enhanced the feeling of being part of something much bigger? A family? Have you made friends through Arsenal twitter who have become true friends  in real life?

OA – Absolutely. The Arsenal family on twitter is amazing. I follow everything Arsenal on Twitter, I read all arsenal blogs. I also listen to the common podcasts (Arsecast et al) too.  Although I haven’t made many friends on twitter who have become true friends in real life, I have a couple of them who I engage in Arsenal banter and all. The feeling on twitter after a match day win is the best, and are at stratospheric levels of sadness after a loss. In that case I stay off.

  GD66 – Do you have a favourite Arsenal match and perhaps a favourite player past of present?

OA –  The 2-0 win at the San Siro against Milan is one I won’t forget in a hurry. After playing a bore draw at the Emirates earlier it was a near impossible mission to get a draw, say less a win at the sansiro against the defending champions. I went bonkers after Cesc scored that stunner and consequently I didn’t watch the rest of the match, missing Adebayor’s goal in the process. I lost my voice as a result of shouting and yelling after the victory, it was almost as if we’d won the champions League. The boss feeling in school the next day was priceless. Confidently yelled(with the little voice I had left) at any rival fan I came across, “Your team never won at the San Siro, we winning the Champions League this Year”. Can’t remember ever been that happy after an Arsenal win.

Cesc beauty in Milan
Cesc beauty in Milan

Cesc was my favorite Arsenal player for obvious reasons, He was the star man when I started supporting Arsenal. Too bad he’s joined the the blue half of London now. He was pure joy to watch back then. I called him “Fabrepass” then. I don’t anymore because he’s no more an Arsenal player.

Wenger faith repaid and then some!
Wenger faith repaid and then some!

Favorite Arsenal player is Aaron Ramsey. What a gem he’s becoming. Many would argue that we would have won the league had he not been out for the better part of the Season. I can’t blame them as his form before the injury was absolutely phenomenal. Not only was he scoring important goals, he was creating for others. We were on roll largely due to his excellent form which became even more obvious when he came back for the last few games of the season. For someone someone who watched him pre-stoke, and when he through those patchy times after the injury, it’s absolute joy to see Wenger’s faith in him finally paying off.

GD66 – Lastly who are the player or players you would like to see arrive this summer and what are your aspirations for Arsenal 2014/15?

OA –  ALEXIS SÁNCHEZ would be a dream signing. He’s kinda the epitome of what we’re lacking upfront. Pace, power, unlimited skills and pace again. Not only will it(if it happens) represent the second marque signing in two years, it will send a statement of intent to our rivals. I’m not sure the (fabled) defensive midfilder is much of a need as people make it out to be. An upgrade will certainly be welcomed, but we can make do with what we have for next season at least. I’m sure Wenger’s got the RB and second Gk positions covered.

Sanchez - Dream signing!
Sanchez – Dream signing!

Of course I’d want us to compete on all fronts next season, the CL especially. That would be an icing on Wenger’s glamorous Arsenal career. I believe if we make the needed signings, and we’re lucky with injuries, it’s within our reach.

My thanks to Okunola for sharing hiss passion for Arsenal from Nigeria. He is a great guy so please follow him @tibexay 

Agree/disagree? Leave a comment below or follow me or comment on this blog on Twitter – http://twitter.com/goonerdave66

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16 comments

  1. This is what being a Gunner is all about. When Okunola described our win at the San Siro, I had tears in my eyes.

    Been a Gunner for 14 years now and it’s a whole lot of emotion. Believe you’ll visit the Emirates one day and you will. The Emirates happened to me, I didn’t even know I was going to live there and one day, I looked out of my window and there she was in all her glory.

  2. My best Arsenal match to date has to be the 2-1 win vs Barcelona in 2011.. I’ve never seen Emirates in such ecstasy…
    My worst match has to be the UCL quarter final second leg in 2010(? I can’t remember) against Man U.. we lost 3-1.. boy the agony

  3. Correct me if I’m wrong here, but I seem to be missing a trick somewhere somehow. Isn’t Chuba Akpom an Arsenal player? Is he not Nigerian? Blimey, one of our most promising youngsters ignored totally! Doh!

    1. When you are born in the London Borough of Newham and have represented England at U16, U17 and U19 I would say at present perhaps not.

      1. Thanks for that piece of information there. Served much clarification. But I’d still consider him Nigerian. His blood (cheeky smile) says so.

  4. Hailings okunola. We have had great matches and then some. I have way too many to mention. The win against Manchester City in 2012 with that fabulous strike by Arteta, or the FA cup win of last season to the win over Barca… Priceless moments. Can’t wait to visit the Emirates though. Still a dream.

    @goonerdave do visit us the Nigerian fan base more. There are so many die hard fans we got here. Got some you could follow @DondeonBeke @enigma106 @obitwyce @dkingpin @eromzy.. We are family and I met them through Twitter just like okunola and we have been great friends

    1. @enigma and I are old friends. I follow many Nigerian Gooners. I follow anyone who interests me and who interacts with me. Some of my favourite guys on my TL are from your country. @MisterSpruce1 is a superb example. I am hoping for another blog in from Nigeria soon.

  5. There are a lot of die-hard fans in Nigeria. Despite the trophyless years, many still wear there Arsenal jerseys to viewing center. They mop up the shame of losing but remain steadfast in love with Arsenal. The FA Cup is a relief and many little livered fans that had departed to Manchester City, Barcelona et al may return.

  6. Howdy superb website! Does running a blog such as this take a massive amount work?
    I have absolutely no knowledge of coding but I had been hoping to start
    my own blog in the near future. Anyways, should you have any suggestions or tips for new blog owners please share.
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