Nigeria’s Dele Aiyenugba, who won two African Champions League titles with Enyimba, says European clubs do not trust black goalkeepers but admits things are gradually changing.
The 37-year-old believes there is a misconception that black keepers lack technique, which has made it difficult for Africans to get signed by clubs in Europe.
Like Vincent Enyeama, Nigeria’s most-capped and successful goalkeeper, Aiyenugba established himself in Israel during a 13-year stint but was not able to follow his compatriot with a move to Western Europe.
Aiyenugba is now back in the Nigerian Premier League with Kwara United, the city where he began his career with rivals Kwara Stars before enjoying success at Enyimba during a six-year stint. He was in the Enyimba squad which won the African Champions League in 2003 and 2004.
The hero of the continental success in 2004 when Enyimba defeated Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia in a penalty shoot-out – to equal the 36-year-old record of Tout-Puissant Englebert as the only side to successfully retain the Champions League title.
He moved to Bnei Yehuda in 2007 as a replacement for Enyeama and played for Hapoel Ashkelon, Hapoel Iksal and Hapoel Afula before his departure in January.
Aiyenugba believes things are gradually changing thanks to the black African goalkeepers now playing in top leagues in Europe.
An African Super Cup winner in 2004 and 2005, BBC Sport understands that Aiyenugba rejected offers from some lower leagues in Europe to return home.
Nigerian clubs are infamous for not paying players and coaches on time, but Aiyenugba insists that money was not the reason he returned to Nigeria.
After representing his country at youth level, Aiyenugba faced a tough competition at senior international level with competitions from Enyeama and Austin Ejide.
Capped 27 times, Aiyenugba was part of the 2010 World Cup squad for Nigeria but failed to pay in South Africa. Not ready to quit at 37, Aiyenugba is confident he still has more to give.