“One of Europe’s best dribblers” – Gernot Rohr laments sudden decline of snubbed Super Eagles star

The former head coach of the Nigerian national team still keeps an eye on some of the players he nurtured in the African nation for more than five years

Franco-German manager Gernot Rohr has provided some reasons behind the decline of Super Eagles winger Samuel Kalu at Girondins Bordeaux and the Nigerian’s eventual departure from the French side.

Kalu left Belgian side KAA Gent in August 2018 for Bordeaux and made his Super Eagles debut the following month.

Rohr, a former Bordeaux manager, revealed he played no part in getting Kalu to sign for Les Girondins. But the veteran tactician confessed he gave Kalu his Super Eagles debut because the French club requested it, to facilitate the approval of the young playmaker’s contract with the league authorities.

Kalu earned all 17 international caps under Rohr, scoring two goals, including a stunning strike against Benin during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.

The 24-year-old was, however, snubbed for the tournament proper in Cameroon by caretaker coach Augustine Eguavoen and has not been invited by Portuguese gaffer Jose Peseiro in his first three games in charge.

Kalu has also been out of favour at the club level, with the ex-Trencin ace managing just 11 (eight as a substitute) Ligue 1 appearances before completing an eye-catching switch to English Premier League side Watford in January.

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The Nigerian’s fortune still did not change as Kalu featured in only four matches (two as a sub) for the Hornets before they were relegated.

However, Rohr remains firm in his belief that Kalu is one of the most gifted footballers in Europe.

The former Gabon head coach is convinced that Kalu has suffered a significant drop in form in recent times because he played for coaches who did not show enough confidence in his ability.

“He did not come (to France) on my advice,” Rohr told AquiTélé as per Girondins4ever.

“The Girondins brought him before I was hired (by Nigeria), before asking me to also provide him with a (Super Eagles) A selection. It was essential for his contract to be approved (laughs).

“I only came afterwards to select him. At the time, to approve a contract for an African player, he had to be an international in his country, which was not the case before.

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“But Samuel Kalu was an excellent dribbler, one of the best dribblers in Europe. He had impressive dribbling stats. I think that, unfortunately, they didn’t know…

“There were also a lot of coaches. Kalu had still played quite a bit with Paulo Sousa at one point; then, I saw some good matches with Jean-Louis Gasset.

“Then there was no longer that confidence he needs to make a difference. He’s a sensitive player.”

Kalu’s last game for the Super Eagles came in Nigeria’s 0-1 home defeat to the Central African Republic in October last year.

The Nigeria Football Federation sacked Gernot Rohr in December.