Carl Ikeme will take the ceremonial kick-off when Nigeria trade tackles with England in an international friendly on June 2, according to Amaju Pinnick after visiting the goalkeeper in hospital.
A delegation of the Nigerian Football Federation, led by its president, Pinnick visited the Wolverhampton Wanderers’ shot-stopper at the Christie Clinic on Monday.
Nine months ago, the 31-year-old was diagnosed with acute leukemia and it has kept him out of the game, including a huge part of the country’s successful qualification to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
During the visit in Manchester, Pinnick delivered the country’s goodswill message and extended an invite to the former Leicester City and Middlesborough man - who is still undergoing chemotherapy - to their tie against the Three Lions..
“We have come on behalf of the Government of Nigeria and the NFF to check up on you, find out how your recovery is going and to tell you that you are still very much on our minds and a member of the Super Eagles of Nigeria,” Pinnick told NFF website.
“We have also come to seek your permission to be our special guest at the pre-World Cup friendly game against England at the Wembley Stadium on 2nd June. We want you to perform the customary kick-off of that game and if you approve of it, we will immediately request this of the Football Association.”
In October 2016, Ikeme helped the Super Eagles to a winning start in their World Cup qualification campaign with a clean sheet as Alex Iwobi and Kelechi Iheanacho’s efforts saw off Zambia.
And the Nigerian football chief is upbeat that the 31-year-old who made his international debut against Tanzania in September 2015 will recover in time from his ailment.
“We believe this is just a phase that will pass away. You will come out of it stronger and still be able to do what you love to do the best, both for your club and the Super Eagles of Nigeria,” he added.
In his reaction, Ikeme expressed his appreciation to Nigerians and his teammates for their support and prayers.
“I am so overwhelmed by this show of love. I am indeed grateful to Nigerians who daily flood my phone with prayers and well wishes," Ikeme said.
"I feel their love everywhere, everyday, on social media. I thank the Government of Nigeria and the NFF for all the support and I appreciate my teammates so much for being there for me."