Uche Promise Ekebuzo was discovered to have a high quality skill in both handball and football. Popularly called Papillo, he was the talk of football fans at a match in Awka, Anambra State and we decided to go after the “extremely talented star of tomorrow” as one of the fans at the stadium described him.
When we met him, Papillo showed that confidence and guts. To him, he is “exceptional in soccer and handball”. He told www.gongnews.net: “I started loving sports, soccer precisely back then when my dad will always get us a video clip of Super Eagles matches especially that of Atlanta 96. I wasn’t born when they played the tournament but my dad saved the videos for me and my elder brother to watch over and over again.”
He started playing football as a goalkeeper. “My first football coach is my father, he was the one that advised me to drop goalkeeping and become an outfield player because of my speed and techniques. I started playing handball in my junior secondary school with the help of my secondary school PE teacher Mr. Okafor.”
His model in football is always the tall players. “I have always looked forward to every tall and classic striker like Nwankwo Kanu, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mario Mandzukic, Mario Balotelli, Emmanuel Adebayo, etc. I love Cristiano Ronaldo because of his hardworking mentality.”
Born to a dad who had a most tremendous impact on his life, the late Gilbert Ekebuzo, and his mom, Charity Ekebuzo. “My dad was a business man before he died. My mom is a Federal Government worker. Am the second and the last child of my parents. My elder brother does not do any sports.”
Asked what is his ambition in sports: Papillo said in football, “I want to be a professional footballer, to play in the top leagues of the world and most importantly form an indispensable figure in the national team of my country Nigeria, the Super Eagles.”
In the game of handball, my hero is Rafiu Salami. I never saw him. He was the favourite of my father. He calls him Ishan. He keeps telling me to be strong like Ishan and jump like Osawe. These are two players he has their pictures. My dad’s wish is that he will like me to represent my country in handball and also play in the top handball leagues in the world. I have this at the back of my mind always.”
Asked what clubs he would wish to play for: “If football works ahead, I will wish to play for Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premier League, or FC Bayern Levekusen in Germany or FC Barcelona in Spain because I love and support youthful, beautiful and free flowing football.”
Asked if he has the skills to play for these clubs, he laughed heartily: “You need to find out yourself. Telling you will be like over pricing myself. Psychologically, I am prepared for the tasks of playing my football at that level. Watch out for me.”
His ideal coach in the world: “The coach I respect really much is Mauricio Pochetinno, the coach of Tottenham Hotspur. I love his pattern and style of play. The club I follow now in the English Premier League is Tottenham Hotspur.”
Super Eagles: “I wish to be an indispensable member of the senior national team. That’s the goal. I would love to play for Nigeria because I started loving football after watching the video clips of Atlanta 96 Team. I have watched that clip more than a 100 times.
“My favourite Nigerian player is Nwankwo Kanu (Papillo).
“My favourite Nigerian club is Enyimba FC Aba, because they are giants in Nigerian premier league even in Africa.
“The best of my teammates in the game of football is Igwe John Paul while in handball is Okoli Odinaka.”
Nicknames: “Papillo due to my height and the tricky movements I exhibit in football. My coaches and teammates gave me the name. My neighbourhood folks are the ones who call me Dele Alli due to my love for the Tottenham Hotspur star and resemblance in stature.”
Handball: “I led Anambra state U-15 handball team to win bronze medal at national secondary school sports competition in Kwara State.
“I also led them to Benue state the following year to win silver medal in that year’s national secondary school sports competition.
“I started leading them when I was 11 years old at Kogi State when we played an invitational handball competition. That was where I learnt proper handball.
“Currently, I am the U-18 team captain of Anambra handball team. I was once selected to come for a try out for the national under 15 after my display at Benue State but I didn’t get a call from them again. All I know is that I am good.”
Schools: Some of the schools he attended include: Holy Trinity Nursery and Primary School Nsogwu Umunze and Demonstration Secondary School in Eziagu, Umunze all in Orumba South LGA of Anambra State.