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PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 11:28 pm 
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TARILA OKOROWANTA: My unforgettable memories with Stationery Stores
by TAIWO ALIMI
October 27, 2018


Dubbed the enfant terrible in his heyday, Tarila Okorowanta, one of the best of his generation, relives his career in an exciting conversation with TAIWO ALIMI.

Ex-international Tarila Okorowanta’s fondest memories are with Stationery Stores of Lagos. ‘Super five years with Super Flaming’ is the way he described his playing career with Stores way back 1979-1984.

In case you have forgotten Okorowanta, he is Nigeria’s first bundle of talent to be crowned ‘enfant terrible’ by the local and foreign media. Etim Esin antics looked like a child’s play in comparison with Okorowanta’s, and now resides in Bayelsa State and attached with Bayelsa Queens as coach.

He has not changed much. Dynamite, they say, comes in small packages. Though smallish, you cannot miss him in a crowd, given his ebullient nature. His voice and mannerism are as sharp as his youthful days when the name evoked admiration and fear in his fans and opponents respectively.

Though he played for bigger clubs – Leventis United, IICC Shooting Stars, and clubs in Gabon and Cote d’Ivoire, he is filled with great thoughts of the time he shared with ‘Flaming.’

Okorowanta said of his formative years in Ajegunle-Lagos (AJ city) and first contact with soccer – as he loves to call the game of football.

He began: “I was born in Lagos-at Ajegunle Navy Barrack. There was a huge football pitch in the barrack and that is where you would find me as soon as I learnt how to run and jump.

“My parents were against this but that did not stop me. Whenever they were out, I would head off to the pitch and as soon I noticed my father coming back, I would smuggle my way back into the house.”

Tried as his father did, Okorowanta had his way.

“Since it was school they wanted me to go, I told them I would do whatever they wanted but I should be allowed to play soccer too. I would go to school and still play football.

“At a point, they would lock me up but I would sneak out from a window, climb down from our room upstairs to play. After a while, my parents got the idea and left me alone.”

From St Gregory to Maryland Comprehensive School, the young Okorowanta said he kept pushing his game until scouts from the Lagos darling club, Stationery Stores, spotted him and signed him up.

“I was barely a teen when Stores took me in. They would come to my school early in the morning to pick me for training at Onikan waterfront. And by 8 am, they would bring me back to school to attend to my studies.”

Though he picked up his skills from the streets of AJ City, it was at Stores that they were polished.

“Up Flaming gave me a chance to dream and be a great footballer. I was like 15 or 16 when I started playing for Stores. It was there that I learnt all I needed to know about soccer.

“I fell in love with the attraction that we got from the club and fans and the overall ambience of the soccer pitch. The supporters are awesome and they loved the game and the players. The friends I made in Stores are the friends I still have now. I spent five years there and they were super five years.”

Staring alongside Nigeria soccer greats like Peter Rufai, Haruna Ilerika, Isa Alabi, and Austin Fregene, Collins Ebitimi, Ike Shorunmu and Sam Opone, Okorowanta said he played hundreds of games and scored many goals. “Unfortunately, I can’t say the number of games I played or goals because accurate records were not kept that time.

“It was the glorious years of Nigerian football when the stadia were filled to capacity and fans came from all over the country to cheer us up.”

Though, he moved on to play for other teams and the national teams, he said Stores would remain his favourite.

“I was really hot in Stores and so my call to the junior national team, Flying Eagles, did not come as a surprise. I was part of the first FIFA Junior World cup in 1983 and I would have travelled out to play for Cosmos in the United States, but it did not work out.

“At this time, Pele (Brazilian legendary soccer star) was playing for New York Cosmos and I would have played alongside him but the trial did not happen. I was young then and did not know the implication of it until years later.”

His talent was undeniable. A master dribbler with Stores, New Nigeria Bank of Benin, Bendel Insurance, Leventis United and Shooting Stars Club of Ibadan, he played mostly from wide on the right but used as a support striker for Green Eagles.

Big clubs courted him with car gifts and one of such time was in the ’85 season when he got a Volkswagen Beetle when Insurance signed him up. He was the first Nigerian to score in a FIFA tournament when he scored the late goal against USSR in Mexico ’83. He scored another brilliant goal in the U20 Tessema Cup final between Nigeria and Ivory Coast same year. While playing for the Green Eagles he netted a beautiful thunderbolt goal against Togo in 1987.

Okorowanta has laurels to show for his talents. In 1981 and 82, he was in the Stores squad that made it to the final of African Cup Winners Cup and won the FA Cup respectively. He got a silver medal at 1984 AFCON, and the 1984 WAFU and 1987 National league titles.

Well known for his truancy and stubbornness, Okorowanta did not even try to deny.

“Yes! I was stubborn and I am not proud of some of my actions. But that was youthful exuberance. I was young and that in a way made me very good at what I did. I put all I have into every game and that helped me to score many goals. Maybe I was overconfident at times and that made me take some bad decisions.”

He gave an instance: “Like when I defected to Italy after Shooting Stars played an African Champions Cup match in Tunisia. It was a bad decision but when others went back I could not because of my stubbornness.

“I was confident that I could get a club but because I did not have a manager it was difficult and that was how I spent five years not playing for any team. It was devastating for me but I did not want to do menial jobs that others were doing.

“I went to many clubs but you needed to have your manager who would negotiate with the club and take you there. You don’t just walk into a club there. I spent five years in Italy trying to get a club to play, but to my surprise it didn’t work out. So I started doing some other things to earn a living.”

Not happy with his situation, he moved on to Germany, Belgium and finally United States, where he got back to football line.

“When I got to the U.S, I got an opportunity to get back into football when I was offered a job as a coach. I was to train a grade 7 girl’s team for two days in a week. Though I was not a qualified coach, I showed them my pictures in the colours of Nigeria and I was given the job. “After a while, I became bored with the job and life in the U.S and decided to come back home. It was when I got back that I enrolled at the National Institute for Sport (NIS) and got a coaching certificate and since 2012 I have been coaching in Bayelsa. Right now, I am coaching Bayelsa Queens,” Okorowanta said.

“Coaching is a good thing but in Nigeria it is difficult. Coaching in Nigeria is not easy. It is not like when you are abroad and everything is structured. Here, there is a lot of problem around salary of players and coaches. In fact, I am tired. This coaching thing is not lucrative in Nigeria. I am thinking of going into administration so that I can help make some changes instead of complaining.”

He said the league needs to be cleaned up inside out to return to its glorious days. “The present league managers are trying but there is still a lot to be done. If you go to stadium and you don’t see people there it is discouraging. Now we have beautiful stadiums everywhere unlike in our time, but people don’t come. The referees do not fare better. It’s all about money here and there and in somebody’s account for matches to be won. It was not like that in our time. Now it is win at home at all cost. Even those in charge of the league are not helping. They have the rules. Players are not paid their sign-on fees and winning bonuses. European football has taken over our football. It is Premiership that our kids know. They know Ronaldo and Hazard, what about our own players? They don’t know even one.”
http://thenationonlineng.net/tarila-oko ... ry-stores/

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2018 12:00 am 
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Tarila na a true AJ pikin as evidenced above.

Unlike Gotti and Co wey dey hide dem AJ roots, we remain proud of our hometown.

Notice he never said he is from the east, west, south of northern Naija! No! A true AJ pikin is simply from the melting pot true Naija town cald AJ!

Tarila was playing for Trinity Comprehensive High School which fielded an all star AJ kids at the principal cup and made it all the way to the Qfinals only to be knocked out by Ojoro refs in favor of the big boys.

But Mercenary lover Principal Omoera recruited Tarila and co to his school - St Gregory and Maryland Comprehensive even though they were never students there but solely Principal Cup Mercenaries.

Those were the good old days.

Glad he went back home to do what he loves.

Cmoke


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2018 12:19 am 
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"Thriller"...
It wasn't just a play on his name Tarila...
Some smart-ass sports journo gave Okorowanta the moniker "Thriller" and it stuck...
Well, Tarila Okorowanta was an absolute baller...the kind of talent that mysteriously disappeared from Nigeria's conveyor-belt since the incomparable JJ Okocha...
Players who actually owned the ball as if it was velcroed to their boots...

Before "Thriller" were: Ilerika...Godwin Ogbueze...Christian Madu...Odegbanmi...
In the days of "Thriller": Uwem Ikono...Benjy Nzeako...Waobikeze

All the fore-mentioned players would make our last current dribbling act (VMoses) seem like Ajibade Babalade...

You look around Nigeria's current soccer universe, and players like Okoronwata are suddenly extinct...
Our current SEagles has no one with remarkable dribbling skill-set...
What the f-ck happened..? Blame it on players-migration to Europe...9ja footie is slowly evolving into a European flavour...

The jury is still out, if this is a good thing, or not...

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I can assure you it's more important than that..."
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2018 1:32 am 
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TBH, this guy is an enigma. Little guy but with a huge heart. He was incredible on the field and on the ball. I eventually met hm at one of the All Nigeria Soccer tournaments in Greensboro, years back. Why do I state an enigma? Based on all the media story, I had expected to meet a loud and boisterous guy but he was none of those. Instead and surprisingly, he was kind of quiet. I communicated with him a bit afterwards before he went back home. In my opinion, he was supremely gifted on the ball and had the pace.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2018 1:46 am 
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Cmoke wrote:
Tarila na a true AJ pikin as evidenced above.

Unlike Gotti and Co wey dey hide dem AJ roots, we remain proud of our hometown.

Notice he never said he is from the east, west, south of northern Naija! No! A true AJ pikin is simply from the melting pot true Naija town cald AJ!

Tarila was playing for Trinity Comprehensive High School which fielded an all star AJ kids at the principal cup and made it all the way to the Qfinals only to be knocked out by Ojoro refs in favor of the big boys.

But Mercenary lover Principal Omoera recruited Tarila and co to his school - St Gregory and Maryland Comprehensive even though they were never students there but solely Principal Cup Mercenaries.

Those were the good old days.

Glad he went back home to do what he loves.

Cmoke


I remember that period, there was a buzz about this AJ kid. I finally got to see this mosquito of a chap that no bigger than my little self at the time tap dancing close to the touchline, no one could keep their balance close to him to even hack at him. I believe he was in Form 3 at the time sef. People forgot about the Gregs match(and HC girls) and a huge crowd formed on his preferred touchline. Immense talent! Wouldn't let the hailers get close to him talk less of touching him. Guess he was paranoid about juju :lol: . Didn't know he played for Comprehensive too, that was another good school to visit :D .

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2018 2:03 am 
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Enugu II wrote:
TBH, this guy is an enigma. Little guy but with a huge heart. He was incredible on the field and on the ball. I eventually met hm at one of the All Nigeria Soccer tournaments in Greensboro, years back. Why do I state an enigma? Based on all the media story, I had expected to meet a loud and boisterous guy but he was none of those. Instead and surprisingly, he was kind of quiet. I communicated with him a bit afterwards before he went back home. In my opinion, he was supremely gifted on the ball and had the pace.


Enugu II, your story na small thing...

"Thriller" once arrived Owerri Stadium with Bendel Insurance to take on Iwuanyanwu Nationale in 1986 National League...
No-nonsense Alabi Aisien was Insurance coach...

Stadium was filled to capacity; "Thriller" was arguably the major attraction...No 7 jersey...

7 mins..."Thriller" received the ball 40 yds out...in a blur of motion, he whizzed past 4 Nationale players before Godwin Eke scythed him down near the "D"...
Incredibly, the Referee waved play-on..."Thriller" flailed his arms in protest to Coach Aisien on the sidelines...Then, he sat on the turf staring at the referee for about a minute, as play went on...

Then he got to his feet, dusted himself, removed his jersey, and calmly strode off the pitch, past Coach Aisien, to the dressing-room...

Aisien did not even bother to talk to him...simply turned to the bench and summoned a sub...

All of us in the crowd were dumb-founded...Less than 10mins, and "Thriller" had departed the game...But that 40-yd dribbling-run was worth our match ticket...

Never witnessed anything like that before, or since: a player leaving a full-blooded match unceremoniously...
That was vintage Tarila Thriller Okorowanta...A flawed genius...

And I can't remember if he was even sanctioned by Insurance or the NFA for that stunt...

Today, he'd surely have been suspended for bringing the game into disrepute...

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2018 9:48 am 
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FATHER TIKO wrote:
Enugu II wrote:
TBH, this guy is an enigma. Little guy but with a huge heart. He was incredible on the field and on the ball. I eventually met hm at one of the All Nigeria Soccer tournaments in Greensboro, years back. Why do I state an enigma? Based on all the media story, I had expected to meet a loud and boisterous guy but he was none of those. Instead and surprisingly, he was kind of quiet. I communicated with him a bit afterwards before he went back home. In my opinion, he was supremely gifted on the ball and had the pace.


Enugu II, your story na small thing...

"Thriller" once arrived Owerri Stadium with Bendel Insurance to take on Iwuanyanwu Nationale in 1986 National League...
No-nonsense Alabi Aisien was Insurance coach...

Stadium was filled to capacity; "Thriller" was arguably the major attraction...No 7 jersey...

7 mins..."Thriller" received the ball 40 yds out...in a blur of motion, he whizzed past 4 Nationale players before Godwin Eke scythed him down near the "D"...
Incredibly, the Referee waved play-on..."Thriller" flailed his arms in protest to Coach Aisien on the sidelines...Then, he sat on the turf staring at the referee for about a minute, as play went on...

Then he got to his feet, dusted himself, removed his jersey, and calmly strode off the pitch, past Coach Aisien, to the dressing-room...

Aisien did not even bother to talk to him...simply turned to the bench and summoned a sub...


All of us in the crowd were dumb-founded...Less than 10mins, and "Thriller" had departed the game...But that 40-yd dribbling-run was worth our match ticket...

Never witnessed anything like that before, or since: a player leaving a full-blooded match unceremoniously...
That was vintage Tarila Thriller Okorowanta...A flawed genius...

And I can't remember if he was even sanctioned by Insurance or the NFA for that stunt...

Today, he'd surely have been suspended for bringing the game into disrepute...


:rotf: :rotf: :rotf:


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2018 11:18 am 
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All I will say is that Tarila na craze person. Even the u20 world Cup he went in 1983,it was trouble. He and one other player spent all the time chasing one local girl whose father had a grocery store. Reports had it that he would leave camp to go sit in the store.... The father got fed up and reported him to the Nigerian delegation.

Between Tarila and Etim, the jury is out on who was responsible for giving late Chris Udemuze his high blood pressure.

But let it be said Tarila was a genius. He would play 30 minutes in a game and decide he has had enough and simply walk off.... It is left for the coach to either play short one or sub him.

Tarila was the son of the devil himself

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2018 3:56 pm 
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oloye wrote:
All I will say is that Tarila na craze person. Even the u20 world Cup he went in 1983,it was trouble. He and one other player spent all the time chasing one local girl whose father had a grocery store. Reports had it that he would leave camp to go sit in the store.... The father got fed up and reported him to the Nigerian delegation.

Between Tarila and Etim, the jury is out on who was responsible for giving late Chris Udemuze his high blood pressure.

But let it be said Tarila was a genius. He would play 30 minutes in a game and decide he has had enough and simply walk off.... It is left for the coach to either play short one or sub him.

Tarila was the son of the devil himself


The guy was pure proof that genius and craze get one fine boundary. A manager's biggest challenge is not the "ordinary", that is, "normal" players, it is that one player with that special gift you can neither buy, borrow nor teach. Tarila & Etim: yep, they both had it.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2018 5:41 pm 
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He wasted that talent by defecting to Italy! Others returned home later but he refused. That put an end to his playing career! SAD

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2018 7:29 pm 
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All I can remember of Tarila is a flurry of flailing legs trying to get the ball off him when he played for Greg’s in the Principals Cup in Lagos. When the dust from the UAC Stadium field settled I saw him jubilating with his team mates at the corner flag. The defenders representing my school Igbobi College were strewn all over the pitch like vanquished gladiators. The mention of Tarila re-awakens these painful memories. Unfortunately he didn’t really hit the heights at senior national team level. Why?


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2018 9:06 pm 
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Cmoke wrote:
Tarila na a true AJ pikin as evidenced above.

Unlike Gotti and Co wey dey hide dem AJ roots, we remain proud of our hometown.

Notice he never said he is from the east, west, south of northern Naija! No! A true AJ pikin is simply from the melting pot true Naija town cald AJ!

Tarila was playing for Trinity Comprehensive High School which fielded an all star AJ kids at the principal cup and made it all the way to the Qfinals only to be knocked out by Ojoro refs in favor of the big boys.

But Mercenary lover Principal Omoera recruited Tarila and co to his school - St Gregory and Maryland Comprehensive even though they were never students there but solely Principal Cup Mercenaries.

Those were the good old days.

Glad he went back home to do what he loves.

Cmoke

Tarila claims to be 16 while first playing for Stores which is different to his football age.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2018 12:12 am 
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folem wrote:
Cmoke wrote:
Tarila na a true AJ pikin as evidenced above.

Unlike Gotti and Co wey dey hide dem AJ roots, we remain proud of our hometown.

Notice he never said he is from the east, west, south of northern Naija! No! A true AJ pikin is simply from the melting pot true Naija town cald AJ!

Tarila was playing for Trinity Comprehensive High School which fielded an all star AJ kids at the principal cup and made it all the way to the Qfinals only to be knocked out by Ojoro refs in favor of the big boys.

But Mercenary lover Principal Omoera recruited Tarila and co to his school - St Gregory and Maryland Comprehensive even though they were never students there but solely Principal Cup Mercenaries.

Those were the good old days.

Glad he went back home to do what he loves.

Cmoke

Tarila claims to be 16 while first playing for Stores which is different to his football age.





I am not the custodian of bros Tarila's documentation, in fact I don't think he could've played for Stores in '79 but that's his story, so we take it like that.
It was however, not uncommon at that time for gifted Secondary School players(in Lagos) to play in the Lagos Football League(LAFA if I'm remembering correctly) teams. At the time if I'm not mistaken Stores were just starting their revival. Quite a few of the players from Finbarrs, Gregs, plus others like the Olukanmi brothers (CMS) played for teams such as Leventis(Lagos), National Bank, Union Bank and the like. Unlike today people could not drop out of the sky, except for Ghanaians. Even if you came from another state someone saw you play there, you had friends, you played Table-Tennis in someones backyard, you snuck out to groove or drink beverages with your age-mates somewhere. The phenomenon of mysterious players started after national success. Coaches knew who the real precocious talents were, and the better clubs recruited accordingly. The more talented "machineries" of whom no one in their age group knew of, hopped around mid-tier certain teams.

A transfer here, a re-sit there, a year or two over there but at the time, there was only so much you could do at that time. Das my own story

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Last edited by Kneedeep on Sat Nov 03, 2018 12:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2018 12:28 am 
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2018 10:20 am 
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The Stationary Stores team that made it to the final of the 1981 African Cup Winners cup was made up of Lagos schoolboys. The likes of Warebi, Rufai, Gbontir, Tarila, Oyenuga, Banjo, Obiyan and the Addi brothers were drawn mainly from St. Gregory, CMS, St.Finbarrs, Ahmadiyya, Igbobi etc.
Those were the glorious days of Nigerian football.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2018 3:34 am 
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That was his actual age.

Loads of AJ secondary school kids from Siasia, Tarila, Osuji (Wema Bank), Segun Adeleke (NEPA - not exactly an AJ boy but attended Gaskiya College, Badia near AJ) were actually still in secondary school while playing for top Naija clubs.

Cmoke :D :D :D

folem wrote:
Cmoke wrote:
Tarila na a true AJ pikin as evidenced above.

Unlike Gotti and Co wey dey hide dem AJ roots, we remain proud of our hometown.

Notice he never said he is from the east, west, south of northern Naija! No! A true AJ pikin is simply from the melting pot true Naija town cald AJ!

Tarila was playing for Trinity Comprehensive High School which fielded an all star AJ kids at the principal cup and made it all the way to the Qfinals only to be knocked out by Ojoro refs in favor of the big boys.

But Mercenary lover Principal Omoera recruited Tarila and co to his school - St Gregory and Maryland Comprehensive even though they were never students there but solely Principal Cup Mercenaries.

Those were the good old days.

Glad he went back home to do what he loves.

Cmoke

Tarila claims to be 16 while first playing for Stores which is different to his football age.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:06 am 
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FATHER TIKO wrote:
"Thriller"...
It wasn't just a play on his name Tarila...
Some smart-ass sports journo gave Okorowanta the moniker "Thriller" and it stuck...
Well, Tarila Okorowanta was an absolute baller...the kind of talent that mysteriously disappeared from Nigeria's conveyor-belt since the incomparable JJ Okocha...
Players who actually owned the ball as if it was velcroed to their boots...

Before "Thriller" were: Ilerika...Godwin Ogbueze...Christian Madu...Odegbanmi...
In the days of "Thriller": Uwem Ikono...Benjy Nzeako...Waobikeze

All the fore-mentioned players would make our last current dribbling act (VMoses) seem like Ajibade Babalade...

You look around Nigeria's current soccer universe, and players like Okoronwata are suddenly extinct...
Our current SEagles has no one with remarkable dribbling skill-set...

What the f-ck happened..? Blame it on players-migration to Europe...9ja footie is slowly evolving into a European flavour...

The jury is still out, if this is a good thing, or not...
I'd say Iwobi for sure. Coming close behind him hopefully is Samu Chukwueze. :thumb:

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2018 1:55 pm 
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Damunk wrote:
FATHER TIKO wrote:
"Thriller"...
It wasn't just a play on his name Tarila...
Some smart-ass sports journo gave Okorowanta the moniker "Thriller" and it stuck...
Well, Tarila Okorowanta was an absolute baller...the kind of talent that mysteriously disappeared from Nigeria's conveyor-belt since the incomparable JJ Okocha...
Players who actually owned the ball as if it was velcroed to their boots...

Before "Thriller" were: Ilerika...Godwin Ogbueze...Christian Madu...Odegbanmi...
In the days of "Thriller": Uwem Ikono...Benjy Nzeako...Waobikeze

All the fore-mentioned players would make our last current dribbling act (VMoses) seem like Ajibade Babalade...

You look around Nigeria's current soccer universe, and players like Okoronwata are suddenly extinct...
Our current SEagles has no one with remarkable dribbling skill-set...

What the f-ck happened..? Blame it on players-migration to Europe...9ja footie is slowly evolving into a European flavour...

The jury is still out, if this is a good thing, or not...
I'd say Iwobi for sure. Coming close behind him hopefully is Samu Chukwueze. :thumb:


Abeg, Iwobi's dribbling skill-set is not at the same level as those names mentioned above...Iwobi requires acres of space; and can't manouvre out of tight spaces...

Make no mistake, Iwobi's intelligence on the ball is top-notch...But taking on opponents 1 v 1? Nah..!

Never seen Sam Chukwueze yet...

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I can assure you it's more important than that..."
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