Celebrated Japanese plastic surgeon Katsuya Takasu made good his pledge to give Nigeria’s Dream Team some cash if they win any medal in the Olympic soccer tournament.
Takasu, handed cheques of $200,000 and $190,000 to Coach Samson Siasia and captain Mikel Obi respectively totalling $390,000 for the entire team shortly after winning the bronze medal.
He had announced his desire to reward the 1996 Olympic football champions with $30,000, $20,000 for gold and silver and $10,000 for bronze after hearing about their financial woes.
“I read about the financial problems affecting the team and I felt the need to make a big contribution,” Takasu told BBC Sport.
“I am not doing this for media attention but to motivate a team with an indomitable spirit. I fell in love with the Nigerian team because despite all these problems they are in the quarter-finals of the Olympics.
“Whether they win or not, I will still donate something to help alleviate the challenges in paying their bonuses and allowances.”
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) were impressed by this gesture but are being careful. “I have been in direct contact with Mr Takasu and impressed by his gesture,” NFF vice-president Seyi Akinwunmi told BBC Sport.
“But we need not get carried away because the integrity of the country is at stake. First we must check about this. Significantly, the team has an important game and we need to focus on that.”
Before arriving in Rio, the ‘Dream Team VI’ were held up in Atlanta, USA, because of a problem with the payment for their flight.
The players boycotted a training session in a dispute over pay, and their injured top scorer with four goals – Ogenekaro Etebo – has been ruled out of the match but will return should Nigeria advance to the semi-finals.