Assistant Golden Eaglets coach, Emmanuel Amuneke, on Monday evening assaulted a football agent, Henry Galliano, at the Rockview Hotel, Owerri, the Imo State capital.
According to PremiumTimes, the assault, which happened at about 6:00 p.m. happened because Golden Eaglets star, Kelechi Iheanacho, chose Galliano as his agent ahead of one recommended by Amuneke.
Galliano and his Nigerian partner, Solomon Oluwaseun, both said Amuneke invited them for a meeting before he got angry, saying that his (Amuneke’s chosen) agent must be the one to handle Iheanacho’s transfer.
Then when the agent, Galliano, tried to talk back, the coach slapped him and beat him up in the presence of over 25 people.
According to Galliano:
“I came to Nigeria to take Kelechi to his club. FC Porto and Manchester City are interested in him but Manchester City has a better package.
Amuneke called me names, beat me up and embarrassed me, he said it’s impossible to just take his players,” Galliano said while accusing Amuneke of racial statements.
Galliano, an American, said Amuneke ordered Iheanacho to follow him to Abuja and also threatened him; which made the boy to burst into tears and went away.
“Kelechi is nowhere to be found, he started crying after the threat was made against him, the small boy is afraid and I hope he will not lose hope. Amuneke said he will delay his ITC and deal with him, he called vulgar words, cursing the boys and the players,” he said.
PREMIUM TIMES tried to speak to Iheanacho, but his phone was switched off.
His father, when contacted, declined comment.
Amuneke, when contacted on phone, an angry Amuneke confirmed that he slapped Galliano and even threatened to beat him up again whenever he sees him.
He, however, denied being involved in the player’s possible transfer.
“Yes, of course I slapped him very well and I will do it again whenever I see him,” Amuneke said.
“He is an idiot, useless white man, he wants to come and reap where he didn’t sow. Kelechi is a nobody; yes, I said we helped him into the team, made him, moulded him into what he is today, he shouldn’t allow anybody to fool him,” the former winger said.
When asked the reason for his action and his rumoured roles in Kelechi and other players transfer business, Amuneke said,
“I care so much for my players, I am a coach. I’m not an agent but I just look out for the boys. He wants to come and sign a player just like that, he’s an idiot, I will not allow him.
Because the boy’s parents are poor and illiterate, he wants to use them. We are Nigerians and we’re not foolish,” he added.
Despite Amuneke’s denial, the shady involvement of Nigerian coaches and football officials in the transfer of players to foreign clubs is something muted and known by close observers of Nigerian football.
A football website, Goal.com, recently revealed that Super Eagles midfielder, Sunday Mba’s move to a French club, was scuttled because of the financial demands and involvement of Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi, and some officials of the NFF.
Mba had been unveiled by the French club, Bastia, before he was forced to return to Nigeria.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that Iheanacho has signed an agent deal officially with Galliano with a copy of the agreement sent to the secretariat of the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF.