Exclusive: Finidi George Hoping to Become the Luis Aragones of Super Eagles

Current Nigeria national football team manager, Finidi George, describes his past experiences as manager and reflects on his dream path in an exclusive interview.

Precious Oham
Precious Oham

Last Updated: 2024-03-28

Louis Hobbs

5 minutes read

Coach Finidi George

Having completed a highly-talked-about African Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament in Ivory Coast, Nigeria's men's football national team, the Super Eagles, have found themselves in a transition period that could swing either side of the pendulum.

In the spotlight of this transition is Finidi George, head coach of Nigerian league champions Enyimba, and a key member of the Nigerian delegation that finished as runners-up at the 2023 AFCON tournament after losing 2-1 in the finals to hosts Ivory Coast.

Image Credits: Getty Images

Image Credits: Getty Images

The Perfect Man for the Job?

Following the expiration of Jose Peseiro's contract with the Super Eagles in March, and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) announcing that they were looking for a new man to take charge of the three-time African champions, George, who had served as an assistant under Peseiro, was tasked with managing the team on an interim basis.

"When I was told to take charge, it felt really good," the former Ajax player told SportsBoom while preparing to engage the Super Eagles in training barely two days after leading them to defeat Ghana for the first time since 2006.

"I'm not new to the team, so it wouldn't take me so long to adapt and try to do new things. I've been with the team for almost two years. I know all the players, their strengths, their weaknesses.”

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I'm here to serve Nigeria.

George Finidi

I've been called upon to do that and I will do it to my best capacity, the way I know how to do stuff. I will just take these 2 games and go back to my club. Whatever decision is taken after, so be it. I'm not under pressure to say “It must be me."

Like La Roja, Like Super Eagles?

Considering the Super Eagles' fluid movement and exciting exhibiting an exciting brand of football in their international friendly matches with Ghana and Mali (a contrast to Nigeria's rigid and defensively compact style employed at the AFCON), speculation already suggests that the Enyimba head coach might be the best option to hire. Especially taking into account a currently cash-strapped Nigerian football governing body.

Already, George, who made it obvious that he is not trying to get ahead of himself, is dreaming of replicating the type of football he learnt from EURO 2008 winning coach Luis Aragones - while as a player at Real Betis and Mallorca - in the Super Eagles.

Image Credits: Bernat Armangue/ AP

Image Credits: Bernat Armangue/ AP

"I've worked with so many coaches," he responded when asked about his coaching inspiration, "...from the late Luis Aragones to [Louis] van Gaal, Guus Hiddink, [Javier] Clemente, [Clemens] Westerhof.”

“Over the years, I've worked with these coaches, but I think it was the former Spanish coach, Aragones, that impacted me the most.”

"Aragones' way of managing players was fantastic because even those that were not playing were happy to be in the team. It is really difficult for a coach to achieve.”

"Now, as a coach, I reflect and see it's not an easy job, managing a team of 25+ players throughout a season without conflict, it's fantastic," George said with a light-hearted smile recollecting how he led Enyimba to their ninth NPFL title in just his second season in the league.

Image Credits: Enyimba FC (

Image Credits: Enyimba FC (

"Coming back to coach in the Nigerian League helped me, all credit to Enyimba. If I had been in Europe, that would be difficult.”

"For now, my job is to finish the two games (against Ghana and Mali)," he added.

Finidi Describes His Dream Future

Speaking about legacies, George stated that if the NFF gave him the job after his “test period”, he would love to walk in the path of Stephen Keshi, the last manager to have had a trophy-laden tenure with the Super Eagles.

"I would like to emulate Keshi and win the AFCON. He won it as a player, and then as a coach which is fantastic. I would like to do the same. The first thing though, is to qualify first."

While the main rounds of the next AFCON qualifiers might still be a while away from getting underway, the Super Eagles will be required back in action in June when they take on South Africa and Benin Republic in a continuation of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

Whether George continues managing the Super Eagles or a new head coach gets hired is currently uncertain. This is completely in the hands of the NFF.  

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Precious Oham
Precious Oham Sports Writer

Precious is a freelance correspondent for SportsBoom, covering the Nigerian market. He brings over a decade's wealth of experience to the team having worked as both an analyst for leading national broadcasters AIT, a media and communication officer for SKE FC in Nigeria's third division, and a writer/reporter for a host of notable digital sports media brands in Nigeria.