Emmanuel Emenike, a former striker for the Nigerian national team, the Super Eagles, has revealed that media criticism was the primary reason behind his early retirement from international football. Emenike, who was a key player in Nigeria’s victorious 2013 Africa Cup of Nations campaign, hung up his boots for the national team at the young age of 28.

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Despite his impressive contributions to the team, including winning the 2013 AFCON golden boot, Emenike’s departure from the Super Eagles came just two years after the triumph in South Africa. The former striker has now opened up about the factors that led to his premature retirement, and it appears the relentless media scrutiny he faced played a significant role.

In a recent social media post, Emenike expressed his disappointment with the negative coverage he received from the media. “I was respectful, humble, and gave everything for Naija (Nigeria) but you can never satisfy everyone,” he wrote. “Journalists did so much damage. I was never loved, and I know this because of the things they put out about me. The love for my country was my driving force.”

Emenike’s comments echo the sentiments of other former Super Eagles players, such as Vincent Enyeama, who have also cited media pressure as a contributing factor to their early retirement from the national team. The football house, however, has not directly addressed Emenike’s claims, though they did acknowledge that they were unaware of his retirement at the time.

The former striker’s departure from the national team was further complicated by a reported fallout with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF). This, coupled with the relentless media scrutiny, appears to have taken a toll on Emenike’s mental and emotional well-being, ultimately leading to his decision to retire from international football.

Emenike’s case highlights the delicate balance that professional athletes must maintain between their on-field performance and the off-field pressures they face, particularly from the media. The constant scrutiny and criticism can be overwhelming, and it is not uncommon for players to feel unsupported and unappreciated, even at the height of their careers.

As the football community reflects on Emenike’s story, it is crucial that the media and football governing bodies work together to create a more supportive and nurturing environment for players. This could involve measures such as improved mental health support, better communication between players and the media, and a more balanced approach to coverage that prioritizes the well-being of the athletes.

By addressing these issues, the football ecosystem can ensure that talented players like Emenike are able to thrive and represent their country with pride, without the fear of being unfairly criticized or pushed into an early retirement.