When Vincent Enyeama announced his retirement from the Super Eagles after falling out with Sunday Oliseh in 2015 , all eyes were on the unknown Carl Ikeme to fill the gloves of the legend.
But how was he going to do it?
Enyeama was a juggernaut in the Super Eagles. He was the captain, a great goalkeeper and a huge influence on the team.
Indeed it was a great loss to the team but while Nigerians were bothered about the void that has been left with Enyeama’s exit, Oliseh was unwavering in his belief for Ikeme.
Ikeme didn’t come on the scene with a solid reputation. As at the time of his call-up to the Super Eagles, the goalkeeper wasn’t getting regular game time at Wolves.
“It is not a major concern that he is not playing for his club as long as he continues to do well with us,” the then Super Eagles goalkeeper coach Alloy Agu said at that time.
Even Ikeme himself was surprised with his call-up.
"If it was a time I was playing regularly, I wouldn't have been surprised," he said of his call-up. "I have just played one game and this call-up just came, I'm surprised by that," he said.
But despite his lack of games, Ikeme stepped in well in place of Enyeama and despite just making nine appearances for the Super Eagles, he leaves after making an impact.
His clean sheet-debut against Tanzania in September 2015 in a 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier and match-winning saves in the 2-1 way win over Zambia are his standout games for the Super Eagles.
It was indeed sad that he was not able to make the Super Eagles squad to the 2018 FIFA World Cup because he was one of the major reasons we qualified for the tournament in Russia.
Even more impressively from Ikeme was the calm influence he brought to the Super Eagles especially during a turbulent time under power-playing Oliseh and the matured way he handled coming in to replace Enyeama who had left the team in acrimonious circumstances.
He has decided to call it quit with football, thereby ending his very short stint with the Super Eagles.
There are always scars from battles and the ones he got from his fight against cancer have taken a toll on him.
Quitting football to focus on his health on advice from his doctor was never going to be a ‘between a Rock and a hard place,’ situation.
He has made his decision and we are should be proud of him.