Ifeoma Dieke

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Ifeoma Dieke
Dieke with Scotland in September 2014
Personal information
Full nameIfeoma Nnenna Dieke [1]
Date of birth (1981-02-25) 25 February 1981 (age 37)
Place of birth Amherst, Massachusetts, United States
Height 5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)
Playing position Defender
Club information
Current team
Apollon Limassol
College career
YearsTeamApps(Gls)
1999–2002 FIU Golden Panthers
Senior career*
YearsTeamApps(Gls)
2003 Atlanta Beat 13 (1)
2007 QBIK
2008 Kristianstads DFF 18 (0)
2009–2010 Chicago Red Stars 19 (0)
2010–2011 Boston Breakers 22 (1)
2011Apollon Limassol (loan)
2012–2017 Vittsjö GIK 94 (0)
2018 IFK Kalmar 14 (0)
2018– Apollon Limassol 9 (0)
National team
2004–2017 Scotland 123 (0)
2012 Great Britain 3 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league onlyand correct as of 23:21, 12 December 2018 (UTC)
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 23:21, 12 December 2018 (UTC)

Ifeoma Nnenna Dieke (born 25 February 1981) is an American-born, Scottish football defender, currently playing for Apollon Ladies F.C. of the Cypriot First Division. She previously played for several professional clubs in Sweden and the United States. Between 2004 and 2017, she won 123 caps for the Scotland women's national football team. Dieke was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, to Nigerian parents, moving to Cumbernauld in Scotland when she was three years old. [2] Dieke and fellow Scot Kim Little were the only non-English players selected in the Great Britain squad for the 2012 London Olympics.

Contents

Club career

Dieke started her football career when she was eight years old, playing for her primary school St Mary's. She later joined Cumbernauld Cosmos, from where she moved to Cumbernauld Ladies. [2] In 1999, she was awarded a scholarship by Florida International University, playing for the university's FIU Golden Panthers women's soccer team. She graduated in 2003 and joined Women's United Soccer Association side Atlanta Beat. [2] She started eight of 13 regular season games and scored one goal. [3] The league folded at the end of her first season, and Dieke later played in Sweden (for QBIK in 2007 and for Kristianstads DFF in 2008) and Cyprus.

In 2009, she joined the Chicago Red Stars. [2] In the inaugural 2009 Women's Professional Soccer season, Dieke appeared in 14 games. She received a red card for foulling Kelley O'Hara during the Red Stars' 2–0 defeat at FC Gold Pride in May 2010. [4] The following month she was allowed to move to Boston Breakers on a free transfer. She started 12 of her 13 appearances for the Breakers in 2010, scoring one goal against her former employers Chicago, for whom she had made five early season appearances. [5]

During the WPS offseason in 2011, Dieke joined Cypriot club, Apollon Limassol on loan from Boston Breakers. [6] The WPS folded ahead of the 2012 season and Dieke returned to Sweden, signing for Damallsvenskan newcomers Vittsjö GIK. Despite missing almost the entire 2013 Damallsvenskan season through injury, Dieke was given a new contract by Vittsjö ahead of 2014. [7]

In January 2018, Dieke left Vittsjö after six seasons. In search of a new challenge, she joined newly-promoted Damallsvenkan club IFK Kalmar. [8] The move was not successful and with Kalmar adrift at the foot of the league table, Dieke was dropped from the team and released during the mid-season break. It was reported that she was unhappy at Kalmar's failure to strengthen their playing squad. [9] She returned to Apollon in September 2018. [10]

International career

Dieke was eligible to represent either Scotland, the United States or Nigeria at international level. [11] She made her Scotland debut in January 2004 against Greece and earned her 50th cap against Northern Ireland in May 2009. [5]

In October 2008 she scored an own goal in a UEFA Women's Euro 2009 qualifying play-off against Russia in Nalchik. The tie finished 4–4 and Scotland were eliminated on the away goals rule, much to Dieke's disappointment: "It hit off my shin, and for me that was the one that knocked us out because it was an away goal. I was beating myself up quite a bit for that." [12]

In 2012 Dieke was selected for a place in the Great Britain team at the 2012 London Olympics. [13] Along with Scotland teammate Kim Little, Dieke was one of only two non-English players in the squad. [14] She played alongside Casey Stoney in central defence, but suffered knee ligament damage in the second group match and had to withdraw from the squad. [14] Medical tests showed that she had ruptured an anterior cruciate ligament, which prevented her from playing in the remainder of Scotland's UEFA Women's Euro 2013 qualifying matches. [15]

After missing almost two years of international football due to the injury, Dieke was recalled to Scotland's squad for the 2014 Cyprus Women's Cup. [16] That October she won her 100th cap in Scotland's 2–0 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup qualification – UEFA play-offs defeat by the Netherlands in Rotterdam. [17]

Dieke remained in Scotland's team for UEFA Women's Euro 2017 qualifying. With teammate Jo Love, she was awarded a special cap in October 2015 as part of a UEFA-backed programme to honour players with 100 or more appearances for their national teams. [18]

When Scotland secured qualification for their first ever major tournament at UEFA Women's Euro 2017, after several near misses, 36-year-old veteran Dieke announced that she would be retiring from international football afterwards. [12] She played in all three games as Scotland made a limp group stage exit, then confirmed her decision to retire the following month. [19]

Playing style

Team GB coach Hope Powell said of Dieke: "Ife's a great defender one-v-one. She probably prefers a centre-half role but can play anywhere along the back." [20] Writing in The Herald in 2017, sports journalist Alan Campbell described Dieke as: "[a] quick and tactically astute central defender". [12]

Personal life

Dieke is often referred to by the hypocorism "Ife" (or "Iffy"). [12] She can speak the Igbo language. [21]

References

  1. "Women's Olympic Football Tournament London 2012 – List of Players Great Britain" (PDF). FIFA . 24 July 2012. Retrieved 31 July 2012.
  2. 1 2 3 4 McIver, Brian (21 April 2009). "Professional footballer Ifeoma Dieke is real-life Gregory's Girl". Daily Record. Trinity Mirror. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
  3. "2003 Atlanta Beat Statistics (9-4-8, 35 pts.)". USA Today. 10 August 2003. Retrieved 14 September 2014.
  4. Howell, John (9 May 2010). "Gold Pride-Red Stars: Red Card and Ghost of Nemesis Past Spell Death for Chicago". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  5. 1 2 "Ifeoma Dieke". Women's Pro Soccer. Archived from the original on 30 October 2011. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
  6. "Boston Breakers Remain Active During Offseason". Women's Pro Soccer. 10 March 2011. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
  7. "Jane och Ifeoma förlänger med Vittsjö" [Jane and Ifeoma extend with Vittsjö] (in Swedish). Vittsjö GIK. 13 December 2013. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  8. Höghäll Johnsson, Johannes (4 January 2018). "Ifeoma Dieke lämnar Vittsjö" (in Swedish). Norra Skåne. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  9. Höghäll Johnsson, Johannes (8 August 2018). "Ifeoma Dieke lämnar Kalmar – för Cypern?" (in Swedish). Norra Skåne. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  10. "Player Record". Cyprus Football Association. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  11. "Ifeoma Dieke heading to States". thefreelibrary.com. 15 July 1999. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
  12. 1 2 3 4 Campbell, Alan (2 April 2017). "Players making history: Stalwart Dieke to bow out on a high". The Herald. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  13. Leighton, Tony (31 January 2012). "England's Kelly Smith devastated by US league cancellation". BBC . Retrieved 5 April 2012.
  14. 1 2 "Olympic football: GB's Ifeoma Dieke out of Games". BBC Sport. BBC. 29 July 2012. Retrieved 29 July 2012.
  15. Campbell, Alan (2 August 2012). "Dieke to miss final qualifiers". The Herald. Herald & Times Group. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
  16. "Ifeoma Dieke returns to Scotland squad after injury lay-off". BBC Sport. 25 February 2014. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  17. Candido, Rico (30 October 2014). "Netherlands beat Scotland to play-off final". Sparta Stadium: FIFA. Retrieved 12 December 2018. Ifeoma Dieke, winning her 100th cap, a rock in defence
  18. Barnes, John (20 October 2015). "Scotland's Ifeoma Dieke and Jo Love honoured by milestone caps". BBC Sport. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  19. Frith, Wilf (18 August 2017). "Scotland's Ross And Dieke Retire". She Kicks. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  20. "Powell: It's a privilege to be the first". FIFA. 21 July 2012. Retrieved 31 July 2012.
  21. "4. Ifeoma "Iffy" Dieke" (in Swedish). Vittsjö GIK. 30 March 2016. Retrieved 12 December 2018.