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Emmy Esperanco Ernesto - A Profile (Gerallt Owen, 12/9/98)

Wednesday night saw the home debut of undoubtedly one of the most internationally capped player ever to have played for Porthmadog. Having talked to him during the week he is probably also the most well travelled player to have donned the famous red and black shirt. Emmy's remarkable story begins back in his native Nigeria where he began his football career at a tender age with Nigerian Premier League sides Emyimbe and then Rangers. At the age of 16 he moved to India to study and join up with his cousin who was many years his senior. He was keen to travel and study abroad so the opportunity was too good to miss, soon however he began playing football for Indian Premier League side East Bengal. After only a short spell he moved to Malaysia and a club called Pa-Ng. While with Pa-Ng he returned to India to take part in a prestigious international tournament featuring a number of South American sides as well as Danish, side Lyngby and the Nigerian Champions. Emmy put in some inspired performances during the course of the tournament and was voted the Player of the Tournament, which bought him to the attention of many not least Lyngby who immediately signed him His performances also ensured his call up to the Nigerian national squad. All this was in 1987 and Emmy was still only 17 years old. He was already a Nigerian international by the time he began playing for Lyngby, during his time with the Danish side he played with Peter Schmichael and as a defender he was no doubt on the receiving end of many Schmichael rollickings. Also during this time he played at the Racecourse for Lyngby against Wrexham in the European Cup Winners Cup in 1990 when the Danish side won the tie 1-0. During a six year period in Denmark he also played for Bromby with the likes of Celtic's Mark Reiper and for Thern and Aalborg also in the Danish Super League.

In 1993 he moved to Honved of Budapest for a six month period. In 1994 he was chosen for the Nigerian World Cup squad, he made two appearances in the 94 World Cup before Nigeria were eliminated in the second round. After the World Cup he was signed by Spanish side Deportiva La Coruna, but 10 days after signing while back in Nigeria on international duty he was involved in a horrific car accident in his homeland. He was transferred to London for specialist treatment on his multiple fractures and remarkably he stayed in hospital for 18 months, having to pay for his own treatment. He was unable to return to football for two and a half years, after such a long period out he played some non league football in England to assess the lasting effects of his injuries, satisfied with his recovery he spent a short but lucrative spell in India before joining American A League side Hershey Wildcats based in Pennsylvania Paul Osahan who had been in America himself invited Emmy to Port at the end of the A League season and he made his first appearance for Port at Denbigh last month.

Emmy made a total of 47 appearances for Nigeria, during which time Nigeria never loosed at home, he recounts with pleasure the wild scenes in the Nigerian National Stadium in Lagos when the side played. "The stadium would be full with 80,000 people and another 50,000 outside watching the game live on giant screens. It would take the team coach four hours to get back to the team hotel, the team hotel was only S kilometres from the stadium. The party would often go on into the next day".

He believes his most memorable moment in football was being part of the Nigerian side that qualified for the 1994 World Cup, the first Nigerian side to do so. He is certain that the best player he has played against was Diego Maradona whom he played against on three occasions.

Emmy who is still only 28 has travelled widely and experienced the cruel ups and downs of football. Let's hope that he enjoys his time with Porthmadog. Croeso i Gymru.

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