Comedian Damilare Oluwasegun, popularly known by his stage name, Asiri, discusses his favourite football club Chelsea, the Super Eagles and more in this interview with PETER AKINBO
Growing up, what sport did you enjoy?
It has always been football, but I was a very terrible footballer. I am not that good but I used mouth to play my own football. They wouldn’t select me to play for the teams, so I abused my opponents so that we could win.
Why do you like football?
Football is a game of life, it’s a game of emotions. When you watch football keenly, you discover that you can apply everything about football in your life. It involves a team, a coach that has to have some sort of oversight about what is going on, it is a game that emphasises the fact that you can’t live life alone, you need other people to help you. You need a midfield that can constantly serve you to score your goals, you need people to defend your goal post, you need fans to cheer you on, so all the elements of football are applicable to life.
What is your favourite football club?
I support Chelsea. I have been supporting Chelsea since 2004. I remember I was writing GCE and there was this guy that used to come to the centre, he was a bit older than those of us writing for the first time. I was in SS1 or SS2 sitting for the exams for the sake of experience. This guy would argue with other people at the examination venue about football and there was a way he articulated his arguments and when I asked him what team he supported, he said Chelsea and from that encounter, I started having interest, then I fell in love with the team, Didier Drogba and Jose Mourinho.
What do you think about Chelsea now?
Come rain, come shine, it’s Blues for life, it is a trying period now, but when you have a team where more than nine key players are injured and the management changed, which caused another problem, it won’t be easy. So, I just hope we will weather the storm because it is getting really overwhelming.
What do you make of the decision to sack Thomas Tuchel and hire Graham Potter?
That was a reckless decision, very reckless decision. I don’t really trust Americans with football management, all due respect to them. I respect and admire them, but when it comes to football management, it is more than that. The way Todd Boehly is handling the team isn’t right, he is handling it like a business team and that is not the way they handle a football team. In football, there is a whole lot of things you put in place, you don’t just take decisions randomly and the choice of Graham Potter is a useless decision, he can’t coach us more than his ability, he just brought Brighton’s ideology to Chelsea and it is now working, it is annoying but what can we do?
What do you think of Joao Felix’s red card on his debut for Chelsea on Thursday?
If he (Felix) has a solid midfield behind him, that guy will do very well, and now he got a red card already, and since he is on loan, it will currently look like a waste of money. So, I think he is a good signing, but the way Chelsea are just throwing money all around is showing desperation, it is reckless.
Do you believe the season can still end well for Chelsea?
I think Boehly is just trying so hard to remove every influence Roman Abramovic has in that team. It explains why he sacked Tuchel, it explains why he sold some players too, so I just hope there is light at the end of the tunnel. I even had to go to Stamford Bridge to pray and after I did, we won our next match, now, fans are telling me to be praying before every game. If they can be paying for my tickets, I can go and pray for them. Anytime Chelsea are playing, they now play the video of me praying at Stamford Bridge.
Who do you think is the best Chelsea manager and player of all time?
The best Chelsea manager of all time is Jose Mourinho, he may be an unapologetic guy but he always delivers the results. The rivalries when he was in charge were sweet and the big games were big games. For the best player ever, I think it is Didier Drogba, he did a lot for the Blues, played the penalty that won Chelsea their first UCL in Germany.
How did you feel when you realised the Super Eagles would miss the World Cup in Qatar?
Well, I was not surprised, it was obvious that we were not going to go, the team was not prepared and of course, it was painful but at the same time, it saved us a lot of heartache, we would have performed woefully. The Nigerian team was not as disciplined as Morocco, Ghana and Tunisia, we would have put up a shabby performance. In my opinion, we were just saved that embarrassment, football is about readiness and we were obviously not ready.
Do you think that Nigeria can get to the World Cup semi-finals like Morocco did in Qatar?
Yes, of course, we need to get to a point where we recruit stars without bias, not that we will recruit footballers based on who knows who. Let us be objective in the selection of footballers, there are talents in the grassroots and so we should give them a chance. The politics going on in the NFF too is affecting the football; football is not what you politicise, and we need to invest in the team also.
Who do you think is the best African player of all time?
For me, the best African player of all time is Austin Okocha, the quality of people he played with, the leagues he played. Ronaldinho at some point used to watch Okocha from the bench, he is one of the most skilled craftsmen in football of all time and he does it effortlessly. I can’t pick a favourite player in the current Nigerian team because I am not pleased with them so maybe after another major tournament.
If any of your children shows an interest in sports, would you encourage it?
I will send that child to the United Kingdom immediately! As long as it is not boxing, I don’t want anyone to spoil my child’s face, but football, basketball, golf, anyone, every child is allowed to be what he can be, but not a boxer.