Former Nigerian goalkeeper and team captain Vincent Enyeama is no longer a Lille player and has become a free agent. This morning, Lille club officials made a statement in which they informed the media that the club had agreed to terminate the contract binding Enyeama to the club. Just two days after his 36th birthday, the veteran goalkeeper is free to look for another club. There are unconfirmed reports that two teams are currently interested in acquiring his services.
This puts an end to Enyeama’s seven-year stint at Lille football club. The player had joined the French Ligue 1 side back in 2011 from Hapoel Tel-Aviv. He spent the 2012/13 season being on loan to Maccabi Tel-Aviv. Back in April last year, the Nigerian goalkeeper injured his meniscus and had to sit out the whole of the 2017/18 season where Lille finished 17th and escaped relegation by a single point. He did have one more year left in his contract when he came back to the club for pre-season training, but the club decided he was no longer needed.
Enyeama played in a couple of Nigerian teams before joining a small Israeli club Bnei Yehuda. After two years with them, he switched to a bigger team, Hapoel Tel Aviv, where he stayed for four years before signing for Lille OSC. He also played for the Nigerian national team making his debut in 2002. In 2013 he was given the captain’s armband before retiring from international football in 2015. He won the 2013 African cup of nations with Nigeria and helped them to third place three times. He also played in 2002, 2006 and the 2010 World Cup. In the end, he had 101 caps for Nigeria and that’s more than any other Nigerian player ever had, making Vincent Enyeama a living legend.
His best season playing for Lille was the 2013/14 season. That season he almost broke the record for most clean sheets in a season, previously held by the retired Bordeaux goalkeeper Gaëtan Huard. Lille had 21 clean sheets that season from 38 games played. At one point they had 11 clean sheets in a row where Enyeama went a total of 1062 without allowing a goal. The French Ligue record is 1176 minutes which was set by the before mentioned Huard back in 1993.
Vincent Enyeama will be remembered by Lille supporters and colleagues alike as a quality goalkeeper but also for his smile and enthusiasm, as the club statement from this morning said.