On this day: Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp vows to fight Super Eagles over call-ups

On this day in 2007, Pompey were on a collision course with Berti Vogts in a tug-of-war over their Nigerian stars.

Wednesday, 20th November 2019, 8:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th November 2019, 8:00 am

The Super Eagles coach had demanded his squad attend a compulsory 14-day training camp ahead of that January’s African Cup of Nations.

Harry Redknapp’s African quartet of Sulley Muntari, John Utaka, Kanu and Papa Bouba Diop were already expected to miss five matches over the tournament’s duration.

It then emerged that Nigerian duo Utaka and Kanu were set to be unavailable for an additional two games.

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It was a club-versus-country scenario which infuriated Redknapp as he attempted to guide Pompey into Europe for the first time in their history.

Former Scotland manager Vogts had insisted there would be no exceptions from the January 4 meet.

But Redknapp vowed to fight his decision all the way.

He told The News at the time: ‘We will do anything we can to stop him. We will fight this, no doubt about that.

John Utaka

‘It’s a ridiculous time for a competition anyway at a ridiculous time of year. It’s absolutely unbelievable.

‘Why can’t they play it in the summer like the World Cup or the European Championship. It makes no sense to me at all.

‘It’s a big problem for us, but Arsenal have a few as well as Chelsea and over the next few years I can see more and more African players coming to the Premier League.

‘I have said for the last two years it’s only a matter of time before one of the African nations wins the World Cup. It will happen, for sure.

‘They are getting stronger and stronger and the players are getting better and better. There are some fantastic ones out there.

‘People say we shouldn’t sign them because of the African Nations but why not? These are quality footballers – you can’t be put off by them being away for a month every couple of years.

‘At the moment, though, it is a real problem for us and now Nigeria are trying to take them away for another few weeks.

‘It’s a crazy situation and we’ll be fighting this.’