Just as Vincent Enyeama’s football career was beginning to rise, he nearly died.
Two years after playing in his first World Cup as a 20-year-old, the Nigerian goalie was involved in a car crash that left two motorbike passengers dead and the car’s driver in critical condition. Enyeama walked away with only bruises, even though the car flipped twice as it swerved to avoid a motorbike
“I’m lucky to be alive,” he said in an interview following the accident.
God’s plan for his life included much more. There was more football to be played, and many people to influence.
“I believe in God, I believe in the Bible, which says He chooses who He chooses,” Enyeama said.
Enyeama went on to play professionally in Nigeria (where he has been honored as the best player in the African Champions League), Israel and France. And after making his World Cup debut by holding England scoreless, he became a beloved member of the Nigerian national team, also known as the Super Eagles. He played as the country’s top goalie in two more World Cups, one of only a few Nigerians to appear in three World Cups. Enyeama later became Nigeria’s most-capped player, with 101 matches for the national team.
One of Enyeama’s most well-known performances came in a later World Cup against Argentina. He made four incredible saves against the legendary Lionel Messi, who said Enyeama’s performance was “phenomenal.”
Enyeama prepared for that match by studying video of dozens of Messi’s games, but he credited God after the match. “My secret lies with God,” he said. “Thanks to Him I was able to do what I did today as He allowed me to stay calm under pressure.”
Enyeama has led the Super Eagles to third-place finishes three times at the Africa Cup of Nations tournament. And he was later the team’s captain when they won the tournament, thanks to a crucial save by Enyeama in the final. After the match, he was asked by the media how he was able make the stop.
“The angels of God helped me and they made sure that my hands were in the right place to stop the ball,” he said.
A married man with three children, Enyeama loves God, his family and his country.
“I want to give all thanks to God for all these things,” Enyeama said after being voted Nigeria’s goalkeeper of the year. “I wish I can give more to Nigeria, I really wish. I really desire to do more.”
Enyeama never hid his faith in Christ while playing with the Super Eagles. His teammates gave him the nickname “The Pastor” because he was the team’s spiritual leader on and off the field. He would often lead the whole team in prayer before meals, practices and games.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.” — Matthew 5:16*
* These references come from the Bible, which includes the essential details on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Bible is divided into books, which are further divided into chapters and verses. For example, John 3:16 refers to the Book of John, the third chapter and sixteenth verse.