Super Eagles goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi has admitted that his mental strength keeps him going in the face of constant criticism from fans and some of his teammates.
Akpeyi has endured criticism from fans in Nigeria as a result of high profile errors while on duty for the Super Eagles.
The Kaizer Chiefs of South Africa goalie was blamed for being out of position when Riyad Mahrez curled in a brilliant free-kick for the Desert Foxes of Algeria in a semi-final fixture at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
An error also led to a goal by Argentina in a 2018 pre-World Cup friendly. He picked up the ball outside his box, leading to a free-kick and a goal.
Despite the backlash, Akpeyi has however kept his place in the team and says he has learned to deal with it by shutting out criticism and staying strong.
“What helps me is my mental strength,” Akpeyi told ESPN.
“I really don’t follow the news about what is going on, especially when it comes to soccer from Africa and this part of the world.
“Thank God I grew up with a mentor who taught me how to be mentally strong. With all I have learnt from my mentor, I can’t give up on myself. I am not going to prove a point to anybody, I only have to prove a point to myself that whatever I have been trained with actually works.”
Akpeyi says one of his teammates was on the phone predicting the end of his international career after the blunder he committed in the friendly against Argentina.
“When we got to the hotel, I overheard one of my teammates in the other room telling somebody on the phone ‘I don’t think he should be invited to the national team again; how can he concede that kind of goal.’
“My own team mate!
“He was just outside the room next to mine and talking. This is a professional footballer who plays in Europe.
“But I thank God, because it is by His Grace that I am here.”