We will paint streets red if Arsenal win EPL Sunday – Actor Gaji Samuel

18th May 2024

Gaji Samuel

Gaji Samuel

Gaji Samuel, who acts the role of Mohammed, a policeman cum gateman in the popular TV series The Johnsons, in this interview with EBENEZER BAJELA, talks about Arsenal’s Premier League title hopes, his football adventure and more

lot of people know you for the popular gateman role in The Johnsons. What are the things they don’t know about you?

People don’t know that I am an Arsenal fan, and they don’t know that I love playing football, except for my colleagues. Most people don’t know these things about me.

How are you feeling at the moment as an Arsenal fan, knowing that Manchester City have the bragging rights ahead of the final Premier League games on Sunday?

Right now I will tell you that I am not depressed but e dey pain me (it’s painful). I don’t understand why Manchester City are behaving like wizards because they refused to drop just a point in the last few weeks. We know they are the champions and they know how to get the ball into the net. It’s just a lesson to many of us that when you have people behind you and you feel you can relax because of the little gap between you, they will meet you and overtake you and once they overtake you they are not going to relent. At the end of the day, we should just recognise City for who they are. But I believe one day Arsenal are going to be champions.

But that has become the catchphrase of Arsenal fans for 20 years now…

(Cuts in) Well, have after over 20 years I still believe it and Arsenal are beginning to have a lot in common with Nigeria because for a very long we’ve been hearing one day e go better (one day it will be fine) and today we are still hoping. But I think Arsenal are still better than Nigeria because we are second but Nigeria still has a long way to go. Let’s say they are the senior colleague to Nigeria. For Arsenal, let’s keep hoping until (Bukayo) Saka leaves the team then we will know that our hope has gone.

At the moment we have a lot of good players but I don’t know what the problem is. This was what happened last season when we lost two or three games towards the end of the season and it happened again this season and we have just a game left. There is no way Manchester City will lose to West Ham at home. We know this is football where anything can happen but City are just beasts and I want to give it to them. People will be surprised that it is Arsenal that will probably lose their game against Everton. Arsenal and me are like husband and wife where both of you are joined together for better or worse.

Were you hoping for any favourable result during City versus Spurs game last Tuesday?

Yes, I was hoping for a draw and if we look at it very well, the draw was very visible in the first half but I told a colleague that City know how to put the ball in the back of the net. And they came out in the second half with a game plan. They are always on point because everyone knows what to do, from the coach to the technical staff and the players, they are always on point. At the end of the day, Hollandia, as I love to call Erling Haaland, came from nowhere and made it happen. We were still hoping, but they got the penalty and that was the end. There are still another 90 minutes to play for and that will decide the whole season, let’s hope something can still happen but if it doesn’t, we will continue to hold on to our second position up and down. At least now they’ve been giving us hope but next season I don’t think I want to go through this by expecting the trophy. I will just settle for second position and qualify for the Champions League, but if it happens, it will be more of a surprise, which is better.

Spurs captain Son Heung-min almost gave Arsenal a wonderful gift but failed to score…

(Cuts in) That’s because the ‘village people’ were there to stop him. Remember, I said Arsenal is the brother to Nigeria when it comes to things like this, when you expect much from Nigeria they will break your heart. Arsenal also have a way of bringing the Amadioha (God of justice in Igboland) from the village to the field and they’ve been affecting them. I’ve been following Arsenal since my secondary school days when Nwankwo Kanu was still with the club. All my family members are Chelsea fans, and you know what it means because I receive plenty of banters from them. My advice to all Arsenal fans ahead of Sunday is to have their minds programmed for second position but if we win we will paint the streets red.

NFF just appointed Finidi George as Eagles coach. What do you think of his appointment?

At the AFCON in Ivory Coast, we saw what the former coach did and we could tell that there is a prospect in the national team. We don’t know what happened behind the scene but my belief is you can’t keep changing a car or generator oil product, it will affect the engine. When Mikel Arteta came into Arsenal he didn’t do well in the first season but they stuck with him and right now without any doubt he is one of the best managers in the Premier League. Chelsea have been changing coaches and that’s why they keep struggling but now that they have kept faith in Mauricio Pochettino, I think they will be stronger next season. I will be surprised if Arsenal don’t do well next season because the team now understands each other well but changing coaches means changing the system. In a nutshell, I think they should have allowed José Peseiro to stay and allow him to continue building the team. Let’s see what happens in the future, but like I said, I don’t know what happened in the backroom.

Are you still passionate about watching the Super Eagles?

The truth is a lot of people, myself inclusive, have lost faith in the Eagles. When I was younger I didn’t eat whenever Nigeria lost a match, I would cry and have headaches. But now, I follow the individuals based on what they are doing at their various clubs.

What do you think is the problem?

Back then we knew the players in the team and what they were capable of. We knew what Taribo West brought to the defence and we knew what Austin Okocha could do in the midfield. We also knew the qualities of Tijani Babangida and Finidi on the flanks, but now the system has changed. People bring players to the team and impose them on the coaches because they know they will make good money. Sports brings us together and I think we should continue to use that to build the country. We keep hoping that things will get better but some people are just concerned about their pockets.

What do you think of our 2026 World Cup chances?

As I said earlier, I have lost hope in the Eagles but I appreciate what the players are doing abroad. I have some friends in the team and I know what’s going on. We watched them at the AFCON and we saw that there was no good supply for Victor Osimehn. Imagine if there was someone like Okocha to give him passes, we know he would have scored plenty goals. I just watch their games for the sake of the country because they carry our flag, but after winning their first few matches the love starts coming back and then they break your heart. They have a way of making us go to the drawing board every time with our calculators and make permutations. I don’t want to do that anymore because there is pressure everywhere, we don’t even have electricity to watch them. I just wish them all the best because it will be nice to have them at the next World Cup.

Did you play football while growing up?

Of course I did and I was very active in the defensive role. I had an injury while I was in secondary school and that’s why I stopped. We needed to win that game and I told myself when the coach played me that it was going to be a do-or-die game, not minding if I was given a red card. Our opponents almost scored a goal and I put my body on the line to stop it and in the process, I sustained an injury to my left knee. But as a young chap I didn’t know it was something serious because I thought it would just go, but after a while, I kept feeling the pain and it was then I knew better that it was a serious injury and that something should have been done back then.

SOURCE:PUNCH

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