Former Super Eagles captain and goal keeper Vincent Enyeama has revealed the circumstances that led to his exit at French club OSC Lille, saying the club’s former coach Marcelo Bielsa didn’t like him.
The 36-year-old left the club in August 2018 by mutual agreement after seven years, during which he appeared 118 times in Ligue 1.
After the exit of former coach Rene Girard, who made him the club’s first choice in 2013, Enyeama ran into problem with Bielsa, who was named coach of the club in May 2017. Bielsa wanted a youthful side and told 11 senior players includingEnyeama, Marko Basa, Rio Mavuba and Eder that they could leave the club.
However, Enyeama, who was undergoing treatment at the time, remained at the club, training with the second team before Bielsa was eventually sacked in December 2017.
In an interview with French tabloid La Voix du Nord, the former goalkeeper, who kept 11 consecutive clean sheets in Ligue 1 in the 2013 season, lamented his treatment in the hands of the Argentine manager.
He said, “Everything was fine until he (Bielsa) came. I was undergoing treatment when he arrived at the club. The first time we met, I was in the hospital. He walked in and did not even say ‘hello’ to me.
“His assistants came later to check on me. The next day nobody spoke to me and that was how the end began for me at Lille. Perhaps Bielsa didn’t like me but he never said it, however his attitude towards me was terrible.”
He said he was sad at the way he and the other senior players were treated – having no chance to say goodbye to the fans.
The former Israel-based keeper said, “I did not imagine that. I gave so much to Lille; I was one of the important players at the club at that time. I had never seen that in football. It was Franck Beria who called me during my vacation in Nigeria. He said to me, ‘Vincent, I have bad news. You’re not going to train with team A’. I asked him why. He said, ‘I do not know. It was the decision of the leaders’.
“They set up a new project which must be respected. I’d be 37 soon and I can understand. But the way I was pushed aside was not good. Neither for me nor for other guys like Marko Basa or Rio Mavuba, who gave everything to the team. We were all very disappointed. Marko was one of the best defenders in Ligue 1. Rio gave it all for this club. And overnight we were apart.
“We were not even celebrated by the fans. They did not even pay homage to us. I could not even say goodbye to the fans.”
He, however, said he would love to return to football after being out for over four months.
“I want to continue for a little bit more, but it’s complicated. I train every day here in my house. I keep fit. I had some tracks in France, Israel or Turkey. But at my age (36), my mind-set is that I do not want to leave my family again. My loved ones are here, in Lille. We are perfectly integrated. We have been living in the North since 2011,” he said.
“I have nothing in France, anyway. I still have until June to see if a good project arrives. I do not just want to replay, I want to have fun and see that my family is good.”