Nigeria and AS Monaco defender, Elderson Echiejile speaks exclusively to Completesportsnigeria.com's JOHNNY EDWARD about his recent white wedding in France, his career at AS Monaco and the
disappointment from the Super Eagles loss to South Africa in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Uyo. He also talks about his future plans from all these platforms. Excerpts….
Congratulations on your recent white wedding Elderson…
Thank you so much.
Why did you choose to get married in Paris France?
It's a place I love so much and I've also dreamt walking my wife down the aisle there. The weather also was another reason why I chose the place. It was a good venue for my club mates to also attend. That was just it.
How long did you date before marriage?
Quite a while, but I'm happy with her, so lets move on quietly.
As a husband now, can you tell us what the difference is being a bachelor and a married man?
It’s entirely different (Laughs). It comes with more responsibilities, unlike when you are a bachelor. You want to set good examples and also want to be a good husband to your wife. That's what I want to do. That's what signed for in my marriage.
Could you share with us your experience playing in both Standard Liege of Belgium and Sporting Gijon of Spain as a loanee from Monaco this past season?
It was a great a experience for me playing in those countries last season. But sadly, I didn't get to play much like I wished.
How would you rate three leagues – the French Ligue-One and Belgian Jupiler League and the Spanish La Liga?
It was a good experience for me because I needed to play regularly to be considered for the Super Eagles. The French Ligue 1 is becoming more competitive and that's why their teams are gradually bridging the gap in the European competitions. In terms of technique, they are just a bit short of the Spanish La Liga quality, but they are above the Belgian League.
Do you regret being sent out on loan last season with Monaco winning the title?
That's a tough one. I would have been happy to stay actively involved and the team winning the league title, and also getting as far as they did in the UEFA Champions League. But I don't think I will just be contented sitting on the bench. The rest is now history. I'm focused on the new season and what the future holds. But getting a league title would have been great as well.
A lot has been said about the defeat of Nigeria by South Africa in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Uyo. What are your thoughts on that game?
In the first half, we did well and attacked a lot, but we failed to build on that momentum by scoring. In the second half, we were not so brave in taking decisions and we did not have the strength to maintain the pace, because we gave so much to win in the first half. We have learnt in a bitter way making some mistakes. I'm confident we will be more focused and effective in our next game.
We worked hard to come back after conceding the first goal during that tough match. It was more difficult after the second goal. At that point, we were a bit lost in the game, and it was hard to get back into it. It is necessary to give the team a reality check like this, and we must not look like the players that suffered this kind of defeat in our next game.
You have played in Portugal France, Spain and Belgium. Where would you love to play next before the end of your career?
England has always been the attraction, but I will move to where I'm needed.
Maybe after the World Cup in Russia (Laughs).
What are your immediate targets for the new season with Monaco?
That will be decided when I rejoin the team for preseason, then I will know what lies ahead.
You launched a campaign '100 Smiles' to help the young ones from the grassroots who are in need last month. Could you tell us the motive behind this?
It is a personal dream of mine to tell the stories of the average Nigerian kid living in poverty and help them achieve their dreams. Having grown up in a poor environment myself, I understand how disheartening it is to live life and make decisions in an environment you did not choose for yourself. This is why this project is very dear to my heart and why I have decided to make these kids happy.
You also have a sports academy in Benin City, Edo State?
Yes, gradually I intend to give back to my hood by educating them on the basic rudiments of the game. I hope to use this platform to help talents from the streets showcase the qualities they have in the game of football. That will also give them a sense of belonging.