January, 6 2024.
Nigerian football has bade farewell to distinguished former Golden Eaglets goalkeeper, Akpan Bassey, who has retired from professional football after an extraordinary 22-year journey.
Bassey has transited into coaching, as he becomes the new goalkeeper trainer of Akwa United.
Hailing from Eket, Nigeria, Bassey started his football odyssey with the Delta Force Academy of Asaba, showcasing early promise that flourished as he emerged as an outstanding talent on the pitch.
Notably, his participation in the 1998 Nike Premier Cup in Paris, France, where his team clinched third place, marked the beginning of a remarkable career trajectory.
In 1999, Bassey joined the Bright Stars Football Academy, laying the foundation for a stellar career that would see him don the jerseys of various esteemed clubs. Signing his inaugural professional contract with Bayelsa United in 2001, Bassey embarked on a journey that traversed the landscapes of Nigerian football.
His tenure saw him fortifying the defense of clubs like Sunshine Stars, Kwara United, Heartland, Enugu Rangers, Akwa United, and even venturing to Hoang in Vietnam, leaving an indelible mark with his unwavering dedication and exemplary goalkeeping skills.
Akpan Bassey's crowning moment arrived at the 2001 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Trinidad & Tobago, where his exceptional performances earned him the title of Best Goalkeeper despite the Golden Eaglets settling for a silver medal after a valiant effort against France in the finals.
Notably, from June 2003 to March 2004, Bassey served as a key member of the Nigeria U-23 team, contributing his expertise during the CAF qualifiers in pursuit of a berth at the Athens 2004 Summer Olympics Men's football event.
Reflecting on his retirement, Bassey expressed gratitude for the opportunities and support received throughout his career, stating, "It's been an incredible journey filled with cherished memories and valuable experiences. I am grateful for the unwavering support and love from football fans and the football fraternity."
As Akpan Bassey hangs his gloves, Nigerian football acknowledges his significant contributions and salutes his exemplary sportsmanship, wishing him the very best in his future endeavors, which undoubtedly will continue to inspire budding talents in the beautiful game.