Peter Rufai has now revealed to SCORENigeria how as a promising midfielder he became a goalkeeper by chance.
“I was midfielder in those days, ” ‘Dodo Mayana’ opened up to SCORENigeria
“I was in Sharks then. I was also schooling at Government Vocational Technical School (GVTS).
“There was a match and we conceded three goals, later 3-1, 3-2 and then 3-3.
“Suddenly, we conceded again and we leveled up at 4-4 and before long we went behind again and all the players, including myself chided our goalkeeper to buckle up.
“He became angry, pulled off his jersey and threw it away, that he wasn’t going to keep again.
“I caught the jersey, put it on and went between the sticks. The game ended 5-5 and that was the beginning of my journey into goalkeeping”.
He further revealed how he joined the famous Stationery Stores of Lagos from where he moved abroad and went on to play for the Super Eagles.
“I entered night bus from Port Harcourt with my ‘Christmas’ clothes and shoes,” recalled the 55-year-old Rufai.
“When I was about to be introduced, the manager asked me to remove my shoes and put on my boots and I said I don’t have boots, but I would play with the shoes.
“As fate would have it, I was allowed to do so and I was later selected ahead of more than 30 goalkeepers who came.
“From there, they took me to the market and bought kits, boots and clothes for me.
“They also took me to a hotel.”
He revealed how his passion for football deprived him of heading the royal house in his Idimu Lagos community.
“I’m a royal prince both maternally and paternally too,” he disclosed.
“My mother was daughter of King Jaja of Opobo. My father was a Royal Father too, so by now I should have been sitting on the throne in the palace.
“But I chose football.”
He holds the record as Nigeria’s longest serving goalkeeper with 65 caps.
“I was in the Super Eagles for two decades and I don’t think anyone has done that for now”, he quipped.
Rufai’s European career spanned through Lokeren of Belgium (1987-1991), Beveren also of Belgium (1991-1993), Go Ahead Eagles of Holland (1993-1994), Farense of Portugal (1994-1997), Hercules of Holland (1997) and Deportivo La Coruna of Spain (1997-1999) before he retired at Gil Vicente in 2000.
By Sab Osuji