‘He was amazing, outstanding’ – Super Eagles star’s stunning impression after returning from AFCON

Super Eagles midfielder Joe Aribo was on target for his club, Southampton, in their 2-1 home defeat to Hull City on Wednesday.

The goal marked his second in 22 games for the Saints.

The game against Southampton marked Aribo's second appearance off the bench since his return from the Ivory Coast, where he proudly represented Nigeria in the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2024).

Aribo made five appearances for the Super Eagles at the AFCON, including five minutes in the final as Nigeria lost to Ivory Coast.

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Despite his side's defeat to Hull City, Aribo has garnered praise from his manager Russell Martin.

What did Martin say about Aribo?

Speaking about Aribo's performance, Martin expressed admiration, stating, ‘He was amazing. We have missed him so much.'

Highlighting Aribo's recent contribution, Martin remarked, ‘He showed that the other night when he came on and I think he is ready to start games now but he has been away for a while.'

Emphasising Aribo's significance to the team, Martin noted, ‘He is a huge player for us and you can see why, that is why he wore the armband in the second half when Adam went off.'

Concluding his praise, Martin described Aribo as ‘outstanding.'

Aribo's remark after Hull City defeat

In an interview with the Daily Echo, Aribo expressed his gratitude for the warm reception upon his return, stating, “I have been welcomed massively and it is always nice to feel the love from all the people around.”

Reflecting on the importance of immediate impact after a period away, Aribo remarked, “It is important to make an immediate mark when you have been away for a long time.

“You worry whether it might take a long time to get back into it. It was important for me to hit the ground running and put in performances that I know I am capable of.”

He emphasised his determination to contribute positively, stating, “For me, I wanted to come on, change the game and make an impact. When you are not playing well, you need a reaction. That was what the manager said to me, to leave it all out there and give your all.”

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Despite his absence, he remained engaged, saying, “I watched every single game while I was away, cheering the boys on – which was a good feeling.”

Demonstrating a team-first mentality, Aribo concluded, “For me, it is about the team and as long as we are winning, it doesn't matter if I am playing or if I am not playing.”

Aribo on AFCON experience

Reflecting on his recent experiences, the former Rangers player expressed his appreciation, stating, “It was an amazing experience and one that I would not take away.”

He also emphasised the significance of such moments in football, noting, “When you're playing football, you go through so many of those moments and especially when you're winning big games.”

Determined to continue creating memorable experiences, he affirmed, “They are memories that you will never forget and I want to keep writing stories and making memories.

“I never really dwell on the now because I always feel like there is more to come. I have finished playing there and now I am straight back here – so I have not had any time to look back on it.”

However, he acknowledged the potential for reflection in the future, adding, “When I retire and finish my career, I am sure it is something I will look back on then.”

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Godfred Budu

Godfred Budu is a purpose-driven Ghanaian sports writer with a sharp eye for excellence. He has had stints with www.kickgh.com inkandkicks.com and ghanafans.com. He loves to talk and write about football on the African continent.