Skepticism, disbelief, cynicism and suspicion, that was how his appointment was greeted back in September 2014
It was expected too, after all we’d had it bad in the past . . .football administrators that accurately mirrored the Nigerian government . . clueless, square pegs in round holes, men who had no business in football and who knew nothing of what the game was about !
Yet there was something about the former Delta state FA Chairman that elicited curiosity, perhaps it was his self-belief , his brash posturing, his exterior of sophistication and refinement . . .whatever it was something seemed different.
Despite that, the doubt and suspicion lingered as even the elections were immersed in controversy as front runner Shehu Dikko controversially withdrew from the race and the electoral chairman was whisked away by security operatives before later being released.
Pinnick would persevere though, an ability of his we have come to admire and he would go on to survive an arduous and turbulent onslaught to wrest power by the Chris Giwa led faction of the NFF
It wasn’t a smooth journey for Pinnick and while he genuinely toiled to get Nigerian football back on track he received unending knocks for his appointment and handling of the Sunday Oliseh saga, the failure of the Junior teams to qualify for the youth world cups, the failure to land the desired world class coach for the Eagles (the Paul le-Guen gaffe) and worse off missing out on 2 African Nations cup tournaments
The unforgiven Nigerian media and football fans alike tore into the former delta state director of sports calling for his resignation
But Pinnick again weathered that storm too and with the support of the aforementioned Dikko and the ever loyal Seyi Akinwunmi slowly turned the tide around
His appointment of German tactician Gernot Rohr though then met with equal skepticism turned out to be a master stroke!
The 2 men understood each other , shared a common vision and in the patient , wily wise elderly German Pinnick had found a man who understood the politics of African football. Another Westerhof
Together with Rohr Pinnick and his team connived and struggled to give Nigerians that which would cover for their previous loses. The much desired ticket to the Russia 2018 World cup.
Together they had pursued Pinnicks passion of bringing home Nigerian children in the diaspora ( a passion shared by Rohr who has more trust in players developed in Europe) to play for the Super Eagles
Still arguably his greatest triumph (at least on a personal note) was winning a seat on the CAF Executive Committee. The cunning Pinnick carefully aligned himself with those that mattered in African football displaying great foresight and contributing to successfully oust Issa Hayatou
He has positioned himself as a trusted ally and confidant to Ahmed Ahmed and Infantino the new powers in World football a position that can only benefit Nigerian football in the long run
Now that the Ticket to the world cup is in place Pinnick his Administration and Rohr have drawn up an exquisite programme that will see the Super Eagles play 5 quality friendlies as well as negotiate top sponsorship deals with money spinners Aieto and Coca-cola for the League and the Super Eagles. Already they put together the game against Argentina that was well received by football passionate Nigerians
Pinnick and his administration are not perfect, they’ve gotten it wrong on occasion ( case in point the narrow escape from the Shehu Abdullahi gaffe which could have cost us qualification), However which system or process is?
What matters is the difference in approach, the visible genuine intent and delivering when it matters most!
We may be looking at the best ever NFF President in Nigerian football history. Nigerian football is on a positive march. . . . Let credit be given where it is due!