Junior international and Nasarawa United goalkeeper, Mohammed Galadima has said having represented Nigeria at the youth level, his ultimate ambition is to play for the senior national team the Super Eagles.
The Nasarawa State-born goalkeeper in this interview with Trust Sports spoke on how he started his football career, the initial hiccups, his days in the U-20 and U-23 national teams and what Nasarawa United are doing to win the 2021 Nigeria Professional Football League title.
How satisfied are you with the performance of Nasarawa United in the ongoing NPFL season?
I am happy because we are among the title contenders. However, since our ambition is to win our first ever NPFL title, I would have been happier if we were topping the table. So what we are doing is to keep pushing for the top spot. We are presently in third position but I want to assure you that after our next three matches, you will see us on top of the table. This is our desire and we will continue to work towards it.
Would you say Nasarawa United have what is required to win the league?
Without sounding arrogant, I want to say yes. We have the players who can do the job. If you look at the current standings, we are in third place. We are among the title contenders so it will be wrong to exclude us from the list of title favourites.
How satisfied with your personal contribution to the team in this season?
Yes, I think I have not done badly. I didn’t keep in the first stanza of the league. I was with the team throughout but it wasn’t my time to keep. I had to wait patiently. Now, it is my time and I am doing my best to justify the confidence reposed in me by the technical crew. I have kept seven matches so far and I am looking forward to more opportunities.
How many clean sheets have you recorded so far?
Unfortunately, I am yet to record any clean sheet because I have conceded in each of the matches. We have won five and lost two. Sometimes, it is the fault of my defenders. When they don’t do their job very well, there is nothing one can do to stop the ball from going in. However, I am not laying the blame on anyone because it is a collective responsibility. We win together and lose together.
Out of the seven matches, where would you say you had your best performance?
I will say my best performance came in the matches against Wikki Tourists where we won 2-1 in Bauchi and our match against Kwara United. I did very well in these matches. And even in our match against Warri Wolves, I did very well. After they scored, they were determined to score more but we were able to stop them.
But it seems you were caught napping when Warri Wolves scored their only goal of the match…
If you look at it very well, it wasn’t my fault entirely. I saw the danger and alerted my defenders but they failed to close down the player quick enough. Before I knew what was happening, he released the shot and I was out of position. I stretched to the fullest but there was nothing I could do to stop the ball.
Which is your most painful defeat this season?
Without doubt, our defeat at Kano Pillars was the most painful. We were not supposed to lose that match. We created so many chances but failed to utilise even one. Had it been we took all our chances, we could have beaten Pillars by at least three or four goals. They got only one chance and utilised it.
How did you start your goalkeeping career?
I started right from when I was a child. My father didn’t want me to play football but I persevered. He said if I must play, I must first of all, pay attention to my studies. I did as he wanted. So I continued to keep in my primary and secondary school days. As a matter of fact, I represented Nasarawa State in the Shell Cup. From there, I joined the Nasarawa United Feeder team where I stayed from 2013 to 2016. I was promoted to the senior team in the 2016/2017 season after we won the State FA Cup. We defeated the senior team in the finals.
How happy were you when you got promoted to the senior team?
I lack words to express my happiness. I was so excited because that was a dream come true for me. Let me say winning the State FA Cup remains my most memorable moment. And when I was promoted to the senior team, my joy doubled. Since 2017, I have been with Nasarawa United.
Apart from Nasarawa United, you also played for the National U-20 and U-23 teams. How did you get into the national teams?
Actually, I first represented Nigeria when I was part of the NPFL U-17 All Stars team that played in the 2017 Future Champions Gaunteng International Tournament in South Africa. We lost the finals 1-2 to Atletico Madrid of Spain. From the U-17 team, I was invited to the Flying Eagles by Paul Aigbogun. From the U-20, I represented Nigeria at the U-23 level. I kept all their matches from the AFCON qualifiers to the championship in Egypt in 2019.
Having kept for the junior national teams, what is your next target?
My ambition going forward is to travel to Europe where I hope to play in one of the best clubs. If I can achieve that, I will then fight for a shirt in the Super Eagles. Right from when I was small, I dreamt of keeping for the Super Eagles. So I don’t just want to keep for Nigeria but I want to have as many caps as possible. I admire Vincent Enyeama and what he achieved with the Super Eagles. I want to emulate him.
So when do you intend to leave Nasarawa United to search for greener pastures?
It may interest you to know that I have received offers from clubs like Plateau United and Enyimba but each time I want to leave, the management will persuade me to stay. And considering that Nasarawa United is my home club, I usually listen to them. However, I want to see what will happen at the end of the current season. For now, I am still a player of Nasarawa United. And even if I leave in future, I will remain a part of the club.