The Nigerian soccer team received a surprisingly generous reward from an unlikely benefactor after clinching a bronze medal finish at the Olympics soccer event on Saturday.
Impressed by the team’s resilience and fighting spirit, a Japanese plastic surgeon named Katsuya Takasu flew to Rio to personally reward the Nigerian team with the $390,000 he promised earlier, the BBC .
— 高須克弥 (@katsuyatakasu) August 20, 2016
The talented group reportedly earned Takasu’s admiration for displaying unwavering dedication despite numerous challenging circumstances they encountered on their road to Rio and even during the Games.
— Deji Kofi Faremi (@deejayfaremi) August 21, 2016
First, they got stranded in the Atlanta when they encountered payment problems regarding their flight to Brazil. They were only able to arrive in Rio de Janeiro just seven hours before their first game. Despite having very little time to get themselves prepared and accustomed to the new environment, the team went on to finish their game against Japan in victory.
— 高須克弥 (@katsuyatakasu) August 21, 2016
With undeniable skill, they eventually ended up number one in their group. However, despite their impressive performance, their allowances were left unpaid, forcing them to hold a protest, just before a very important quarterfinal match against Denmark.
— Sahara Reporters (@SaharaReporters) August 20, 2016
After learning about their financial worries, Takasu said he “felt the need to make a big contribution.”
Out of his own generous pockets, Takasu shelled out $200,000 for the team to “cover bonuses and allowances” plus an additional $190,000 to all members of the Nigerian soccer team as bonus for the remarkable third place finish.
“I had traveled from Tokyo prepared to reward them anyway, and to watch them win the bronze inside the stadium was very fulfilling,” he said in an interview with BBC.
“This team showed resilience and fought the hardest to achieve success despite all their problems. Some people would have given up but they didn’t,” Takasu was quoting as saying.
Coach Siasia, who received the check alongside team captain John Mikel Obi, expressed his thanks to Takasu for his generosity.
“We can’t thank doctor Takasu enough because what he has done is amazing and unbelievable, we didn’t see this coming when we set out for the Olympics” Siasia told BBC Sport.
“It’s not just about the money. You can’t equate his gesture in figures or words, to find a big supporter far away in Japan travel down here to cheer and back us is unbelievable.
“I can only say a big thank you on behalf of my team and country, we pray God continue to bless him abundantly,” Siasia added.