By Sab Osuji
Christian Chukwu has sensationally told Orient Sports that he did not pass through the surgeon’s knife last May when he traveled to London, United Kingdom for medical treatment.
Chukwu, 68, was flown to London, on May 15, 2019, for treatment following a prolonged health challenge with billionaire oil magnate, Femi Otedola, picking the $50,000 medical bill.
But the former Green Eagles captain has now disclosed to Orient Sports that contrary to earlier belief, his ailment did not require surgery and as such, he was not operated upon by the undisclosed London Hospital doctors when he arrived the ‘Queen’s Own Country’.
“I must say that my treatment or healing started immediately I landed at the (Heathrow) airport in London”, starts the now lively, soft speaking coach.
“This is because the environment, the atmosphere and everything, starting from the airport vicinity were something else. You really feel you are in some kind of different place from where you had been all along.”NFF President, Amaju Melvin-Pinnick had arranged everything before we arrived and as soon as the airport formalities were over, we were driven to the hospital”.
Chukwu, who during his playing days, won the 1977 Africa Cup Winners Cup (now CAF Confederation Cup) with Rangers as captain and Africa Cup of Nations in 1980 with then Green Eagles, said things changed when they arrived at the hospital.
“Before we left Nigeria, the thought was that I was going to London for surgical operation to correct my ailment”, the former Harambee Stars of Kenya and SAFA FC Lebanon coach continued.
“After several tests at different hospitals in Nigeria, I was recommended for surgery abroad.
“But that was not to be. I was not operated upon. Instead, I was given only injections after several tests.
“The doctors said what they were told as regards my ailment was not actually the case and that it does not require operation. So, after like about two days of injections, I felt I could start playing again.
“So, it was injections all through and afterwards, rehabilitation followed.
“You can’t believe it that the doctors recommended that I don’t need to stay in the hospital bed. In their opinion, the situation doesn’t require it and more so, it was going to be unnecessarily expensive, like €150 per day.
“An apartment was quickly arranged and I moved in, going from there to the hospital for treatment.
“For (Femi) Otedola and the NFF President, it was not about money but my recovery but based on doctor’s recommendation, I had to be taken to a private apartment”.
Chukwu, now feeling stronger and lively as the interview progressed at Vinbecca Hotel, Enugu, said it was like he now has a second life and remains eternally grateful to Otedola who pulled the financial muscles to ensure he regained his health.
“Otedola is like an Angel that ‘visited my life in the likeness of man’. I did not know him from Adam. And I believe that he could be a kid when I was still playing.
“And for him to put down his money for my treatment, such a heart of human milk, I cannot describe it. I’m overwhelmed.
“I cannot thank him enough, for him to have put down his $50,000 for my treatment. This is a clear message to everyone, even the younger generation of players to always put the nation first.
“He is a very humble young man, with golden heart. It was when he visited me in London (hospital) that I realized how humble he is.
“When I was told he will be visiting, I was expecting such a flamboyant figure of a person, with flowing ” Agbada” but that was not to be the case.
“Instead, what I saw was one, very simple in his dressing, clad in a pair of jean trousers and T-shirt, that simple, and mind you, his driver in London is a white man.
“How I wish most of our leaders and wealthy men could emulate him. It was in the course of the visit that he told me that he has also offered to foot the medical bills of another Nigeria former player, Peter Fregene who was flown to India for treatment. This is noble, I must say”.
‘Chairman’, as Chukwu is fondly and affectionately called, also dropped words of commendation for Chief Benson Ejindu, Eze Ome Ogo 1 of Oba, who is also a Patron of Ex Rangers Players Association for his role in his treatment.
“It was Ejindu who made the public aware of my I’ll health. He first solicited for financial assistance from the public, anybody, to raise $50,000 to enable me travel to United States of America for treatment. I can’t thank him enough, honestly”.
Aside, Otedola and NFF President, Amaju Melvin Pinnick, Chukwu picked out Enugu state government led by Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and his childhood club, Rangers, for praises.
Despite providing funds for his earlier treatment at undisclosed hospitals in Enugu, Governor Ugwuanyi gave automatic employment to Chukwu’s son, an engineer, in the Enugu State Ministry of Works and Housing.
“I want to use this opportunity to dispel the notion that I was abandoned by the Enugu Rangers and by extension Enugu State government. There was no iota of truth, whatsoever, in that insinuation as it never happened.
“When I was in a hospital here in Enugu courtesy of Enugu Rangers and later Enugu state government and the hospital turned into a tourist center of some sorts with people rushing to come and see me, the state government got the permission of the doctors and I was relocated to a hotel here in Enugu”.
The Nigeria Football Legend however rubbished claims by the NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, that the football house has placed him on a N500, 000 monthly salary.
Chukwu described such promise as ” political”, revealing that he’s not received a dime from the NFF since he returned from London as regards the N500,000 monthly salary promise.
“As you can see, do I look like one who receives N500,000 monthly”, queried the 1985 Golden Eaglets
“Nobody has said anything to me since I came back but like I said earlier, I don’t hold it against him or the NFF board.
“Instead, I do appreciate the enormity of financial challenges facing the federation (NFF).
“They are owing all the national teams coaches, So, where will they get the N500, 000 monthly? It is not possible and like I said earlier, it was what Amaju said in my house at the time they came to my house for arrangements for my medical trip abroad.
“But I would want to state for the records that it (not fulfilling the N.5m monthly salary promise) does not take anything away or belittle the critical role Amaju played during that period and I’m most grateful for all that he did.
“He recommended the hospital in London and it was a World class hospital I must tell you and I thank him for everything”.