Former Nigeria international Emmanuel Amuneke says he will continue to put himself forward for coaching jobs in Europe despite being overlooked by Spanish clubs in the past.
The 49-year-old, who last year led Tanzania to their first Africa Cup of Nations since 1980, is seeking a return to management after leaving his role at Egyptian side Misr El-Makkasa.
He also led Nigeria to the 2015 Under-17 World Cup in Chile while as player he won Olympic Gold in 1996, which came two years after winning the Africa Cup of Nations, playing at the World Cup and being named African Footballer of the Year.
“It’s frustrating and disappointing that despite playing here and undergoing your coaching training in Spain, Africans are never considered for a job in the country,” the former Barcelona player told BBC Sport Africa.
“I returned to Spain after winning the Under-17 World Cup and applied for jobs in the Spanish Leagues, but I was overlooked and not even shortlisted for interviews.
“A second division side in Spain showed strong interest through an agent, but despite my experience of playing in Spain, undertaking my coaching trainings here and winning the World Cup, it was not enough for them to put their trust in me.
“I’m not discouraged about this situation. I will continue to make myself available for any opportunities that may come or any vacant jobs that is open because Spain is where my family lives.”
Amuneke and former Super Eagles midfielder Seyi Olofinjana were recently approached for the vacant Nigeria Football Federation Technical Director’s role, but both rejected the job, which was filled by Austin Eguavoen last month.
As well as Egyptian side Zamalek, Amuneke shone at Portugal’s Sporting Club before moving to Spanish giants Barcelona in 1996.
He also played for Albacete in Spain as a player before earning Uefa’s highest coaching qualification – a Uefa Pro coaching licence – in the country after his retirement.
Despite obtaining his coaching badges with the Spanish Football Association (RFEF) at his home base in Santander, he has refused to accept that opportunities in Europe for an African manager should be limited.
“You can only keep knocking on different doors politely with a positive mindset that one day they will open it for you,” he insisted.
“No one should feel entitled to any job or seek a tokenism role, but instead continue to seek an equal opportunity like other managers.
“You never know, the next job might be in the Spanish league or elsewhere. I am happy with what I have achieved and what I am doing.
“I can only continue to stay optimistic and hopefully the objective [to manage in Spain] will be achieved.”
Earning more experience
Amuneke insists he is qualified enough to make an impact at any level and rejects his lack of experience ‘in European management’ as being a legitimate reason not to earn a first European managerial job.
“You first need a job to get experience and it has to start from somewhere,” he added.
“I’ve managed at youth and international level in Africa, as well as clubs. You need to also aim higher if you have the highest qualifications.
“Opportunities will always come if you keep your head up, continue to develop yourself and do what is needful to succeed as a coach.
“You can not limit yourself by thinking African all the time. Because if you are good enough to play in Europe then you must believe you are good enough to also manage in Europe.”
Amuneke left Tanzania by mutual consent following the team’s failure to progress to the knock-out stages of Egypt 2019.
A stellar career so far
The 1994 African Footballer of the Year previously managed his country’s youth teams and Sudanese club SC Khartoum.
He was the assistant coach when Nigeria won the Under-17 World Cup trophy for a record fourth time in the United Arab Emirates in 2013.
Two years later, he led the Golden Eaglets to a fifth U-17 World Cup title in Chile and, revered as a proven youth manager, he was swiftly promoted to coach the Nigeria’s under-20 side, the Flying Eagles.
As a player, he was a key part of the Super Eagles team, scoring both goals at the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia where Nigeria beat Zambia 2-1 to secure their second African title.
He also played for the Super Eagles at the 1994 World Cup – scoring memorable goals against Bulgaria and Italy.
Two years after that triumph in Tunisia, he scored the winner again as Nigeria stunned Argentina 3-2 in the 1996 Olympic football final in Atlanta to become the first African football nation to win Olympic gold.