The first African coach to take a team to the European Champions League, Ndubisi Egbo of Albanian side KF Tirana, has spoken of the racial abuse he received this season on his way to making history.
KF Tirana were last weekend confirmed as winners of the Kategoria Superiore, the top tier of Albanian men’s football.
His achievement was even more remarkable given that he only took over partway through the season, with the team threatened with relegation.
But the former Super Eagles keeper, who is a duel Nigerian-Albanian national, said that there had been a lot of racial abuse directed towards him.
“There are people who don’t want me to win because of my colour,” the 47-year-old told BBC Sport.
“There is racism. One game they threw a banana at me. They spat at me.
“The officials of the Albanian FA did not do anything, because it was an away game and they had a white set of fans.
“The police and security were there – and nobody did anything. They were afraid of the fans there. I couldn’t do anything. I just had to accept it.”
Egbo explained that he sometimes hears things said about him in Albanian because people do not think he will understand.
One time when getting on a bus in the city with a backpack, two men behind said in Albanian: “this one might be from Al Qaeda.”
“I said to them, ‘have you finished’?” he replied in his fluent Albanian.
“They wanted the ground to open up for them to disappear.”
‘Just like Obama’
Egbo, who had previously been a caretaker coach at the club, having joined them as goalkeeper coach in 2014, took over properly following the sacking of the previous manager in late 2019, with Tirana eighth in the 10-team division.
“We were going to have to play off for the relegation zone,” he said. (BBC)