I wish I had all my children early — Henry Nwosu

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A former Super Eagles captain, Henry Nwosu, tells MOTUNRAYO JOEL about his fatherhood experience

What were the things that prepared you for fatherhood?

Growing up, the way my parents treated me gave encouragement and desire to become a father. The constant love and care my father showered on my siblings and I gave me an insight on who a father should be and the role he is expected to play in the lives of his children.

When did you become a father?

I think I was about 18 or 19 years old. I had just left secondary school and relocated to Benin City, Edo State, when I met a lady. We became friends. She later became pregnant for me and gave birth to a boy. We didn’t marry.

How was the feeling holding your son for the first time?

I was a bit scared at the beginning but after some time, I became happy. I took my child from her family when he was a year and two months.  Ever since then, my life has not been the same. The experience of nursing my son was great. I would not trade it for anything.

Do you regret becoming a father at a young age?

I am very happy I had my child at an early age. Today, he is a master’s degree holder and I am a grandfather. I am not too happy that I still have young children at my age. I wish I had all my children at an early age. Unfortunately, my first wife could not have any child for me. My second wife bore me three boys and a girl.

Are you saying you would have loved to have all your children early?

Yes, I wish I had them early. I would have been enjoying by now. The love and care I would have been receiving from my children would have been overwhelming.

At the time you joined the New Nigerian Bank Football Club of Benin City, you were just 18 and that was around the period your first son was born. How did you combine your career and role as a father?

My elder sister, who lives in Lagos, was very supportive. My son lived with her and her husband. I visited him frequently at her place. Even though he wasn’t with me, I ensured that I played my role as a father. I provided everything he needed.

What was your greatest fear before you became a father?

I had no fear; instead, I looked forward to becoming a father.

How do you discipline your children whenever they err?

The Nwosus

Whenever they misbehave, I shout at them. I also have a cane which I rarely use. All I do is to threaten them with the cane. I’m not the type of father that enjoys beating children. Once in a while though, I flog them after which I cuddle them.

How old are your children?

My first son is his 30s; my second son turns 20 soon. My third boy is 13, my fourth boy is 11 and my last born, a girl, is eight years old.

Are you an overprotective father?

Yes, I am an overprotective father. Whenever I send any child on an errand, I stand at the security gate to wait for the child.

Are you the type of father that has preference for a particular gender?

No, I love all my children but my daughter is the closest to me, but I love all my children.

What is the hardest punishment you have meted out to any of them?

Once, I flogged one of my children. I gave him five strokes of the cane. Other times, I send an offending child to his or her room and tell him or her to remain there for some time. I deprive the child the opportunity of watching television.

What values did you learn from your father which you have passed onto your children?

My father always encouraged and warned me never to tell lies. He said once I say yes, I should not change it to no. He always advised me not to covet other people’s property. He said I should always be contented with what I have. These are some of the values I passed onto my children. He said with hard work, I would achieve a lot for myself.

Do your children know about your football history and how popular you are?

They know that their father was once a footballer but I don’t think they know how popular I am.

Do they request to watch the matches you played?

I can’t even be of help to them there because I gave out all my tapes to someone 20 years ago and he has yet to return them. It pains me whenever I think about it. I have no single tape available. My tapes are supposed to be my legacy and archives. Unfortunately, someone took them. I made several efforts to replace them but my efforts were to no avail.  I feel bad about it but there is nothing I can do.

What has been your greatest challenge as a father?

I think trying to ensure that my children are happy all the time. Of course, I try not to insult them no matter how angry I may be. I try to teach them the core values of life.

What lessons has fatherhood taught you?

It has taught me to be humble, responsible and to be a good listener.

Do you usually advise your second son about women?

He is busy with his pastoral work; we are Catholics. He has not lived with me for a while.

Would you support any of your children interested in becoming a footballer?

My last two sons like to play football. Sometimes, I take them out for trainings. I also advise them to focus on their education. I tell them to take it seriously more than football. I also tell them that they will not play football until they enter university. That was the same advice I gave to my first son.

What do you always tell your children about your experience playing for Nigeria?

We don’t go as deep as that in our conversations, but I tell them that if one is well educated and good at playing football, the person would excel. Either of them –football or education – would make the person shine.  I say if any of them is lucky to be as popular as I am, that would be a plus. I constantly preach to them to take their academics seriously. However, I plan to get good coaches to train any of them who eventually decides to be a footballer.

What special gifts do you give your children?

On their birthdays, I buy clothes and shoes for them. I make sure they have a nice time on their birthdays. I also try as much as possible to enrol them in the best of schools. I do the normal things a father should do for his child.

How have you been able to teach them the essentials of good upbringing?

I always encourage them not to tell lies and that they should be upfront constantly. I also advise them to be respectful to everyone they meet. I encourage them not to be involved in things I would not like.

Are there things you would have loved to do differently as a father?

Not at all! I am happy with all I have achieved as a father.

How do you appreciate your wife?

I give her words of encouragement and whenever I travel, I buy things for her.

Do you help her with house chores?

Yes, I do. I give her support at home.

What is your advice on how one can become a good father?

A father must love his children and provide for them. A father must prevent his children from getting involved in bad acts. A father also must not argue with his wife in front of his children.

How often do you give your children money?

I give them money on a daily basis.

Do you have any regrets in life?

I wish my father saw me becoming a football star. When I was young, he used to boast that I would become a popular footballer, ‘Nigeria’s Pele.’ Sadly, he didn’t live to see me become popular. He died when I was in secondary school.

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