Super Eagles goalkeeper Carl Ikeme has stated that he never found it difficult replacing for skipper Vincent Enyeama as first choice.
Speaking to FIFA.com, the Wolverhampton Wanderers goal tender, who is expected to be in goal when the Eagles face Swaziland on Tuesday, said the thought of living up to expectations, and not trying to emulate anybody has been is motivation.
"I wouldn’t say it was difficult. I was always aware that Vincent’s been the No1, captain and been an unbelievable goalkeeper for Nigeria, probably one of the best African keepers to ever play the game," Ikeme told FIFA.com.
"I don’t really want to try and emulate someone else. I want to do it my own way and be the best I can be. I know people always want to compare goalkeepers to each other, but I’m just trying to concentrate on what I do and do the best for Nigeria."
Ikeme expressed his delight that his decision to play for Nigeria has brought pride to his family.
"The thing that meant the most to me was how much it made my family proud – they were ecstatic. It made me feel really good that all my family in Nigeria were proud of me for representing my country. My granddad passed away a few years ago as well, so it was a good feeling to put the Nigeria shirt on knowing that he was looking down on me.
"The experience itself gives you a bit of confidence to know you’ve played international football and played against some of the best players in the world. It makes you believe you can play at this level, especially if you do well it gives you a bit of a boost.
"We’ve got some top talent in the team and when you’re playing with [John Obi] Mikel and [Ahmed] Musa it gives you a bit of confidence to say you can play on the same team with these people and you belong at the level. It gives you another goal as well to want to be a part of the next [squad]."
The 29-year-old, who went on to relieve his first time in the Eagles dressing room, revealed that former German Coach Berti Vogts actually sent him his first invitation to the Eagles in 2007.
"I got invited into the squad (in 2007 by Berti Vogts) and got injured before the squad was due to meet up, so I couldn’t join up. So it was unfortunate I didn’t get to get started a bit earlier. I suppose everything happens for a reason though, so it was probably my time to come in when I did."
"It’s pretty strange (first experience in the Eagles dressing room) really because, you know, I’m not a kid. You don’t know too many of the players. It’s not nerve-wracking, but it’s a bit first-day-of-school-like. You try to get to know people and build a sort of relationship, but you’re also trying to impress the coaches at the same time and prove to everyone that you should be there."
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