It’s im­pos­si­ble to be John Zaki but I’ve his power and speed

Abia War­riors bulky striker, God­win Ior­bee Zaki has told SHOT! that it is im­pos­si­ble to be ex­actly like his more fa­mous el­der brother, John Zaki but he is ready to take the Nige­rian League by storm be­cause he pos­sesses some of his brother’s qual­i­ties such

Weekly Trust - - Shot! - David Ngobua

What does scor­ing on your de­but against a highly rated team like Enugu Rangers mean to you? I lack words to ex­press my hap­pi­ness and sat­is­fac­tion. For me to score on my de­but in the Nige­ria Pro­fes­sional Football League against the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons was no doubt a mo­men­tous mo­ment for me. More­over, the goal was the match win­ner and that made it so spe­cial for me and the team.

Would you say it is a sign of good things to come for you in the league?

Of course yes, don’t forget that I fol­lowed up with an­other goal against Katsina United when we played them in our sec­ond match of the sea­son. I am ac­tu­ally mo­ti­vated to build on that per­for­mance in my first match. If I con­tinue to get the man­date of my coaches to play, I hope to keep scor­ing goals to help the club achieve its am­bi­tion.

Have you set any goals tar­get for your­self ?

I know that there are so many good strik­ers in the league but if God has anointed me to emerge the high­est goal scorer, no­body will beat me to it. So if I keep get­ting play­ing time, I will use the ex­pe­ri­ence I gained play­ing abroad to see, if I can emerge the high­est goal scorer in the league.

Last sea­son, God­win Obaje scored 18 goals to emerge the high­est goal scorer. Do you see any striker sur­pass­ing his per­for­mance this sea­son?

Of course yes. I want to say there are strik­ers who can score as many as 30 goals if given the en­abling en­vi­ron­ment. With good of­fi­ci­at­ing, I tell you I can score as many as 30 goals. I am not the only per­son who has what it takes to score the goals. There are so many strik­ers in the league with the abil­i­ties to score up to 30 goals this sea­son.

You have just men­tioned of­fi­ci­at­ing so could you go ahead and as­sess of­fi­ci­at­ing in the Nige­ria Pro­fes­sional Football League?

If you ask for my can­did as­sess­ment of of­fi­ci­at­ing in the league, I will say we still have a long way to go. It is not like what we have in Europe. In Euro­pean football, ref­er­ees al­low matches to go fifty-fifty. There is noth­ing like home ad­van­tage. How­ever, in the Nige­rian league, there are still traces of the wrong home ad­van­tage. I can say there are good ref­er­ees in the league but some are kill joy. They make ques­tion­able calls and that make things dif­fi­cult for clubs.

With the per­for­mance of Abia War­riors so far, would you say your team is good enough to fight for the ti­tle?

I want to say that ev­ery team in the world is beat­able. Even teams like Barcelona and Real Madrid lose matches. So I can say there are prospects for Abia War­riors to win the league but we must con­tinue to work hard. All we ask for is a level play­ing field. By level play­ing field, I am talk­ing about fair of­fi­ci­at­ing like the one we got against Rangers in Enugu.

How did you get into Abia War­riors?

Ac­tu­ally I was train­ing with Delta Force FC and I was about to sign for them but when we played a friendly match against Abia War­riors, I did very well and they picked in­ter­est in me. Abia War­riors then in­vited me over and when I came, I im­pressed in train­ing and that was how I got reg­is­tered for the sea­son.

From all in­di­ca­tions, this is your first sea­son in the Nige­ria Pro­fes­sional Football League. Why did it take you this long?

Ac­tu­ally, I played in the league but in the lower di­vi­sion with First Bank of La­gos from where I trav­elled out. And even be­fore I trav­elled, I trained for sev­eral months with some top Nige­ria Pro­fes­sional Football League clubs like Sun­shine Stars and Lobi Stars. I did six months in Sun­shine Stars and four months in Lobi Stars. Un­for­tu­nately, none of the clubs signed me.

Why weren’t you dis­cour­aged even when the NPFL clubs failed to give you the break­through you needed very much?

It is hard for me to be frus­trated by any­thing. My life phi­los­o­phy is God’s time is the best. So I al­ways wait on God for ev­ery­thing I want to do in life. As a mat­ter of fact, even as the clubs did not reg­is­ter me, they paid me some al­lowances to keep me go­ing. So I was not frus­trated by any­thing. They know bet­ter why I was not reg­is­tered.

You did say from First Bank FC La­gos, you trav­elled aboard. Could you share your ex­pe­ri­ence with other Nige­ri­ans?

In 2012, I trav­elled to Nor­way where I had two weeks tri­als. From there I moved to play briefly in Fin­land in 2013, then I moved to Malta and from Malta I played briefly in Cyprus be­fore com­ing back to Nige­ria. My con­tract was due and I was run­ning out of visa. Al­though I had an­other of­fer in Cyprus, I was not sat­is­fied with the fi­nan­cial com­mit­ment of the club and de­cided to take a break. I am still in touch with my agent who is work­ing out some­thing. More­over, one or two clubs are also mon­i­tor­ing my per­for­mance. So I can say go­ing back to Europe is a mat­ter of time.

Your el­der brother John Zaki made a mark play­ing for the once dreaded BCC Li­ons and the Su­per Ea­gles. How ready are you to step into his big shoes?

I do not in­tend to un­der­mine my abil­i­ties but I want to be hon­est with my­self. Step­ping into my brother’s shoes is not go­ing to be an easy task but I am go­ing to do my best to main­tain the lega­cies he left in Nige­rian football. I can­not be like him but I think I pos­sess some of the qual­i­ties that made him a great player in his days. So I want to re­peat here that its im­pos­si­ble to be John Zaki but Nige­ri­ans will see at least 99% of him in me.

What are your brother’s qual­i­ties that you think you pos­sess?

When I was younger, I watched some of his tapes. His drib­bling skills, abil­ity to score goals, his shoots, and speed and I think I have got these loaded in me. I have learnt a lot from him and I hope to com­bine that with things I watch great play­ers like Cris­tiano Ron­aldo and Luis Suarez do to also be­come a great striker in fu­ture.

How much sup­port did you en­joy from your el­der brother when you started your football ca­reer?

He def­i­nitely in­spired me to play football. He gave me ev­ery nec­es­sary sup­port and even now he has not stopped sup­port­ing me to carry on the fam­ily name. Apart from ad­vices, he also gave me play­ing shoes and jer­seys. As a young player, I was highly mo­ti­vated.

Do you see your­self rep­re­sent­ing Nige­ria in the near fu­ture?

That is ev­ery player’s dream and if I am given the op­por­tu­nity, why not? I will be happy to play for Nige­ria just the way my el­der brother did in his time. I will con­tinue to work hard and if God says yes, no­body will say no. I know that Nige­ria is blessed with so many good strik­ers but if I am con­sis­tent in scor­ing goals, I am sure I will be con­sid­ered. I want to be recog­nised as a good scorer.

Are you there­fore hop­ing to be part of the next CHAN Ea­gles?

If I will still be in the NPFL, that will be my de­sire. I have to start from some­where to get into the main Su­per Ea­gles. The coach in charge of the team is watch­ing the league so I want my goals to speak for me. What are your hob­bies? My hobby is cook­ing. If I were not play­ing football, I would have been a good chef. I like serv­ing peo­ple. Let me just say apart from play­ing football, I am a chef. I feel highly ful­filled when peo­ple en­joy my meals.

Why did you choose to play football?

I didn’t choose football be­cause I have an el­der brother who made a name play­ing the game. I chose football be­cause God has given me the tal­ent. My pas­sion for football is so great that when I started as a kid, I would refuse to come home and eat food. Most times, I would re­turn home to dis­cover that there was no food left for me and I would go to sleep with­out food. I never gave up on my pas­sion. Five times I prayed to God to show me what he wants me to do in life and five times, He showed me football.

Do you have any re­gret play­ing football?

I do not have a sin­gle re­gret. I can­not even quan­tify what football has done for me. I have learnt a lot of things through the game. Football has taught me the true mean­ing of life. It has taught me about the ups and downs in life and how to be pa­tient in all sit­u­a­tions. In ad­di­tion, I have trav­elled a lot al­ready and it is said trav­el­ling is part of ed­u­ca­tion. So football has ed­u­cated me in so many ways. I am yet to make money in football but I am trust­ing God that money will also come.

Abia War­riors striker, God­win Zaki shoots at goal in the match against Katsina United at the Umuahia town­ship sta­dium

God­win

Ior­bee Zaki

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