Vincent Enyeama: Brazilian Star Brands ‘Ever-Smiling’ Nigerian Goalkeeping Legend A ‘Phenomenon’

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The former Super Eagles shot-stopper spent only four active years with Lille, but he left behind an indelible impression in the minds of many that will last a lifetime

Brazilian striker Túlio de Melo has praised Nigerian goalkeeper and former Lille teammate Vincent Enyeama as a gifted goalie and the finest he ever lined up with at any club.

The well-travelled de Melo has enjoyed a decent career spanning more than 15 years across several clubs in Brazil, Denmark, Italy, Spain, and France.

But his most successful spell came at Lille where he won the league and cup double in 2011, an incredible feat inspired by a young Eden Hazard and iconic goalkeeper Mickael Landreau.

Enyeama joined Lille at the end of that double-winning campaign on a free transfer from Israeli side Hapoel Tel Aviv. He, however, didn’t become a regular in the first team until the 2013/14 season, which was de Melo’s last with the Great Danes.

But the veteran striker witnessed enough show-stopping moments pulled off with ease by the ever-smiling Enyeama to be convinced that the former Super Eagles captain was the best keeper with whom he has played.

“He (Enyeama) was a phenomenon,” the former Chapecoense forward told L’Equipe.

“I have never seen such a firm hand. You shot him a missile, he put his hand in the opposite direction, and the ball will cross half the field.

“Besides, he always had a smile. I never saw him get angry.”

Enyeama came to prominence at Enyimba, helping the Aba based outfit win three Nigeria Professional League titles, two Caf Champions Leagues, and one Caf Super Cup diadem.

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He then won more trophies in Israel before switching to France, where he claimed the Marc Vivien Foe award at the end of an excellent season when he went on a 14-game run without conceding a goal.

On the international scene, Enyeama lifted the 2013 Afcon with the Super Eagles and is frequently named among Nigeria’s greatest ever goalkeepers.

The two-time CAF Champions League Player of the Year boasts 101 appearances and is Nigeria’s all-time most capped player, an honour he shares with current Super Eagles assistant coach Joseph Yobo.

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