Super Eagles goalkeeper Carl Ikeme has revealed that losing his place to Emiliano Martinez at the start of last season helped keep him sharp between the sticks at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Ikeme was dislodged by on-loan Arsenal man Martinez late last year but the 28 year old told Birmingham Mail that his focus and professionalism handed him a rare opportunity to reclaim his place in the team.
“It was a slow start for me and I got dropped from the team and didn’t play as much as I would have liked at the start of the season,” said Ikeme in an interview with Birmingham Mail.
“I just carried on training well and working hard and came through and made over 30 appearances in the end so it didn’t work out too badly.
“I knew when I got back in I would have to keep my standards high especially after Emi was fit because he is a very good young goalkeeper.
“It’s always good to train with different keepers and Emi is a great lad.
“But it is also about yourself and focusing and concentrating on being the best you can be.
“It is about staying focused and professional which I feel I have done all season and even when I wasn’t in the team I was still doing the same things.”
Ikeme landed his first international call-up with Nigeria, and he now already has seven caps and he's inspired to carry on in the national team colours.
“Playing for Nigeria is something I love doing, in particular the atmosphere and the love you get from the fans.”
“The timing of the Nigeria call-up was out of the blue a little bit,” he recalls. “I wasn’t playing for Wolves at the time so it was a welcome distraction.
“I have played seven times for them so far and that has been another highlight of the season as well as getting back in at Wolves.