Nigeria's Vincent Enyeama philosophical after award defeat

By Oluwashina OkelejiBBC Sport
Vincent Enyeama
Vincent Enyeama

Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama has no complaints despite missing out on the Confederation of African Football's (Caf) 2014 African Footballer of the Year award.

Enyeama, a consistent performer for Lille and Nigeria and the best goalkeeper in France during 2014, finished behind eventual winner Yaya Toure of Ivory Coast, and Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the poll.

Enyeama was also a nominee for the 2014 BBC African footballer of the Year which Algeria's Yacine Brahimi won.

The Caf award is voted for by the coaches or technical directors of all the continent's national teams. The BBC award is voted for by football fans.

But the Super Eagle says he is not disappointed to have lost out on winning.

"I wasn't disappointed not to win because I lost the award to votes decided by people," Enyeama told BBC Sport.

"Yaya deserves it and I must commend him for the record of winning four times in a row.

"Personally, it's a great honour to have been nominated and I thank those who voted for me and considered me a worthy nominee."

The only other goalkeepers to have won the Caf award are Cameroon's Thomas Nkono and Badou Ezzaki from Morocco who were winners in its previous format organised by France Football magazine.

Enyeama, 32, is confident of joining that illustrious list before retirement, even though no Nigerian has won the Caf award since Nwankwo Kanu in 1999.

"It's great to be shortlisted for both the BBC and Caf award this year because it shows how close it can be.

"Goalkeepers have obstacles facing them in winning awards because people only care about the goal scorers and all that.

"I know if I keep performing at the top level I can break that barrier and inspire other goalkeepers to believe that nothing is impossible."

From being regarded as one of the best goalkeepers on the African continent, Enyeama is now also considered one of European football's finest.

He cemented his reputation with a string of fine performances for French side Lille last season and set some impressive records.

Enyeama kept 11 consecutive clean sheets in Ligue 1 matches during the first half of the 2013-14 season. In total, he achieved 21 shut-outs last term - more than any other goalkeeper in the top five European leagues.

For now, he is focused on ending the season as positively as possible, following Nigeria's failure to qualify for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations and Lille's inconsistent form so far.

"I must admit that this season has been a tough one both at country and club level but that's football.

"I just want to keep my focus on being a better player between the sticks and keep working hard at my job.

"An award is good, recognition is okay but success for the team is what I crave, so I'll take whatever comes with that if it happens."