Gombe United FC fans were excited by the presence of former Nigeria International, Nwankwo Kanu, popularly known as Papilo, at the Pantami Township Stadium Gombe.
Kanu, who is the Chairman of Enyimba International FC, accompanied his team to Gombe to honour their Match Day two fixtures with Gombe United on Sunday.
Reacting to Kanu’s presence in the state, Mr. Barbuwa Kalla, a football fan who was at the stadium, said he felt good to see “our Papilo again”.
Kalla said the way fans received Kanu was really a pointer to the fact that Nigerians, irrespective of their tribes and religions, love their national heroes and appreciated their contributions while they adorned the national jerseys.
“You need to see how fans were celebrating his presence; it really brought back that nostalgic feelings of the good old days when the Super Eagles did us proud.
“This is a story that will be told by every fan who was present at the stadium today.
Kalla said more of ex-internationals should be encouraged to take up such roles in clubs to boost the game and improve the league.
On his part, Usman Haruna said he was excited to see Kanu waving at fans at the Pantami stadium, “seeing him live reminded me of his good goals for Arsenal, especially his hat-trick against Chelsea.”
Haruna said Kanu’s presence reminded him of his childhood when he used to sneak into his neighbour’s room to watch Kanu, Okocha, Garba Lawal and others play for Super Eagles.
“I can’t forget today; Kanu made my day and I am going home to tell my friends that Kanu was here (Gombe) today.”
Yusuf Olawole, another fan, said Kanu’s presence and the wild excitement of fans to see him in Gombe showed the power of football in uniting people.
“It is because of what happened today that made many analysts to describe football as a unifier; imagine Muslims and Christians celebrating Kanu without minding his region.
“This is why we must use sports to heal our country and bridge the peace gaps for the peace and prosperity of our dear nation.
“I am happy to see Gombe fans trooping to see Kanu not because he is a northerner or southerner but because he served Nigeria well.”
It took the intervention of security operatives at the stadium to escort Kanu into his car and out of the stadium.
The fans were particularly excited as Kanu also waved and smiled at them until he entered his car.
The match ended 2-0 in favour of the hosts with goals from Chijioke Alekwe in the 44th minute, while Ahmed Jimoh scored the second goal eight minutes into the extra time.
Reacting during a post-match conference, Technical Adviser of Gombe United, Mohammed Babaganaru, expressed optimism that his team would do better in the 2023/2024 season.
Babaganaru said though his team was still work in progress, he noted that his coaching crew would do the needful to ensure good outing in the 2023/2024 NPFL season.
“If you look at the team, it’s entirely a new team, most of the players of last season have left.
“We also started very late. I believe the team will improve in the course of the league.”
On the part of Enyimba International, neither Kanu nor Coach Finidi George spoke to newsmen when approached.