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PostPosted: Sat Nov 02, 2019 11:50 pm 

Joined: Wed Dec 24, 2003 12:39 am
Posts: 9477
Best Ogedegbe and Ibadan, the graveyard of forgotten football heroes
By Segun Odegbami

02 November 2019 | 4:18 am

I shall be in Ibadan next week. Why should that be news?
Well, it really should not be, but it is.
Going to Ibadan, for me, has become a burden of some sort.
For what I did in Ibadan, for Ibadan and with Ibadan, I should be enjoying rich harvests of invested dividends.
My exit from the city was unlike my quiet entry.
Like several of my other football colleagues, I left the city under rather unfortunate circumstances after five years of great schooling, 10 years of an incredible football career, and one year of working fulltime for the Oyo State government.
That particular story will be told in my memoirs soon.

The story of life after football in Ibadan for the majority of those that played for Shooting Stars FC, made it one of the greatest clubs in the African continent, and brought glory to the Yoruba race, is that, not one of those connected with the club during its greatest era is in any meaningful relationship with it now.

Whereas, the truth, unknown to most people, is that football in the 1970s and 1980s in Nigeria was more than a game and the players were more than just footballers. They sacrificed a great deal and represented very powerful, ethnic, political and even economic interests within the country.

What went on behind the scenes, what we heard, were told, and directly and indirectly participated in to promote, protect and sustain those vested interests, beyond football, can never be told or written down for the public to know – never!
To appreciate a little of what I mean take the case of the club that stared it all. It is pertinent to say that Rangers International FC of Enugu was more than a football club. It was a global, social, cultural and political movement of the Igbo people as they emerged from the 1967-1970 Nigeria/Biafra Civil war.

Two years ago, or so, I was invited and I went to the 40th anniversary of the great club’s success as second winners of the Africa Cup Winners Cup in 1977. The event took place in Houston, Texas, in the USA, and I know what I saw and experienced. The movement, called Rangers International FC is still alive and well, but serving a different purpose today in a totally different Nigeria and different world.

On the other hand, Shooting Stars International FC, the movement that was the immediate response to the birth of Rangers in 1970 is dead!

Young men were recruited into the pan-Yoruba club. Their work through a simple game of football reinforced the place of the Yoruba in contemporary Nigerian political history (for those who can look beneath the superficiality of football at the bigger picture).
They took the game to new and unprecedented heights, with a competitiveness that lifted football in the country, brought glory to towns and the regions, and accelerated the reconciliation of Nigerians after the Civil war. Once again, it takes more than pedestrian thinking to appreciate this fact.

In Western Nigeria, some young gifted boys and men of Yoruba extraction and others, were assembled from wherever they could be found, and trained to become football ‘soldiers’ in a game that was close to the heart of Nigerians.
I was a football soldier for the Yoruba race. Not many people understood it that way. They simply enjoyed the ‘combats’ and drama on the football field and celebrated the heroes that the period produced in an unprecedented torrent. Never has Nigeria produced that quantum and quality of individually gifted footballers all over the country as it did during that era. It was the result of the ‘spirit’ driving the game.

Ibadan was a great production centre.
The city embraced football and added it to its accomplishments in all other fields – First University Teaching Hospital, First Television House, First Skyscraper, First Ultra-modern stadium, first this and first that. Shooting Stars FC became first also in the fight to win the football battles of regional supremacy.
Between 1970 and 1984 when it was disbanded through a very ill-advised military fiat, only Rangers International of Enugu could match “Shooting’ in achievements and accomplishments in Nigeria’s football history.

One of the principal actors that did the job in Shooting Stars FC, and placed the city of Ibadan on the global map of football, was Anthony Best Ogedegbe. He was Shooting Stars FC’s number one goalkeeper through most of the greatest and challenging moments of the 1970s – winning the FA Cup twice, winning the league title twice, and winning the African Cup Winners Cup once, all within the eight years of his sojourn in the club.

Best’s composure and contribution in 1976, at a critical moment during the African Cup campaign, when there was a last penalty kick to be taken to determine which team goes to the finals, when millions of hearts would have been broken and possibly some lives lost to pain and shock, he rose confidently above fear and tension, swaggered to the ball and struck it with power and precision into the roof of the goal posts with the Zamalek goalkeeper sprawling helplessly on the ground.

Time stopped momentarily for reality to dawn on all. Then the whole of Yoruba land exploded in an orgy of celebration such as had never been seen before and has not been seen again ever since.

The city of Ibadan celebrated that match as if tomorrow would never come, with Best Ogedegbe as the greatest star of that show and the main architect of our victory. He was solid and dependable in goal, and masterful at scoring his own goal during penalty shootouts.
Best’s heroics ensured that for several days, Ibadan did not go to sleep following that epic semi-final victory. The city has not witnessed such scenes again.

Of course, Best Ogedegbe was not alone in those great exploits. Like him, many of our colleagues have passed on to meet our Creator. Some of us, by the grace of our Creator, are still alive but barely surviving in the city of Ibadan, the light and spirit of those days gone, probably, forever.

Ibadan still holds a fascination that many of those football ‘warriors’ of yore could not shake off even their careers ended. The neglect and disregard by successive governments was ‘killing’ them slowly but surely. Some of them continue to hope that something would happen someday to change their story, and that a political leader would come one day and see that Ibadan has been turned into a graveyard of sports heroes.[b]

The evidence is all around Ibadan. There is not a single monument, a single street, a single building, even a simple bust or statue, a painting, erected in any part of the city to capture the little but significant contributions of footballers to Ibadan’s position as the intellectual, socio-cultural, economic and political capital of the Yoruba in the world.
That’s why going to Ibadan in the next few days is a burden for me.

I shall be there to talk about my late friend, Best Ogedengbe, in a lecture organised by his wife, Shade, and members of the Oyo State chapter of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) on the 10th year remembrance of his departure to his Creator.
It will surely be an opportunity to meet up with old friends again, share my experiences with Bestilla and use him as a point of contact to remind the government of Oyo State and the people of the city of Ibadan, about what Shooting Stars International FC meant in the firmament and history of the Yoruba people, and why they should do something about paying the ‘debt’ they owe the players through engagement, support and simple occasional recognitions.

[b]I will surely remind them that Liberty Stadium, is dead; that Shooting Stars FC is dead and is replaced by a misnomer, ‘3SC’; that Baba Eleran is dead; that Chief Olalekan Salami is dead; that so, also, are Adekunle Awesu, Mudashiru Lawal, Folorunsho Gambari, Anthony Osho, Joe Appiah, Adeleye Abai, Tunde Bamidele, Samuel Ojebode, Moses Otolorin, Dauda Adepoju, Suara Adeniran, Taiwo Ogunjobi, Joseph Ladipo, Rafiu Salami, Kennedy Dappah, and Best Ogedengbe.
These are all heroes that don’t deserve to be completely forgotten. ... ll-heroes/

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Last edited by Toxicarrow on Sun Nov 03, 2019 12:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

PostPosted: Sat Nov 02, 2019 11:59 pm 

Joined: Wed Dec 24, 2003 12:39 am
Posts: 9477
Remembering Gangling Rashidi Yekini
By Segun Odegbami
October 26, 2019 61 0

Had I known that he shared the same birthday with one of the greatest football players in the history of the game, I would not have been wondering for years about where Rashidi got his prodigious goal scoring ability from.

How can anybody be born on the same date, October 23, as Edson Arantes Do Nascimento, Pele, and be ordinary?
Rashidi Yekini was born in 1963, on October 23, exactly 23 years after Pele who, by the way, is still alive and kicking at 79.
I should have known that he would never be ordinary when he strolled almost effortlessly into a megastar-studded Shooting Stars FC team in 1984 and grabbed a shirt.

Greatness had been boldly written in his stars.
Yes, some 25 years ago in Ibadan, he walked into the greatest football team at the time in the country as a young unknown 21-year old ‘rookie’ from Kaduna, and deservedly earned a place in a team with an awesome reputation and an assembly of supreme talent and solid experience. By the time he left, less than two years later, he had become the cynosure of all eyes, and, potentially, one of the most to be celebrated in the country’s history.

Three days ago, Rashidi Yekini would have celebrated his 56th birthday had he not died suddenly on May 4, 2012 under very mysterious and suspicious circumstances that have never been investigated.

The story of Rashidi, like that of the legendary Pele, is of a man who became a phenomenal goal-scoring machine and one of his continent’s greatest all-time goal scorers.

Today, as I join in celebrating his birthday, posthumously, I also want to recall a little of our relationship.
He was brought to Shooting Stars FC by supporters of the club in Kaduna in 1984.
Rangers of Enugu had established the tradition of…

It took Rashidi about two training sessions to guarantee his place in the team under Chief coach Chief Festus Adegboye Onigbinde who was the first coach to invite Rashidi to the national team and to convince him that Shooting Stars FC was the best team for him to join.
Rashidi was never to relinquish his hold on that centre-forward position again throughout the campaign for the African Club Championship of that year!

So, Rashidi and I started doing a lot of damage to opposing African teams as twin strikers during the campaign. It was almost too easy for him playing by my side, with all the experience that I had garnered through the years, coming into play. Because he was not well known then, he found space to deploy his immense arsenal of goal scoring when opposing defenders concentrated on me that they had known for almost a decade.
It was also very easy for me to help him ‘break’ him like a new horse into the Shooting Stars team because we communicated in the Hausa language. Rashidi liked that a great deal. Hausa was his first language and he spoke it flawlessly.
Off the field Rashidi was very reserved, unto himself most of the time, but full of humour and jokes whenever he chose to play the clown in the team.

On the field, he took his football very seriously. He trained as hard as anyone else and did not indulge in frivolous activities. He hardly ever complained about anything.

What he lacked in dribbling skills and fine passes, he more than made up for with his power, pace, ability to run into open spaces, cannon shots, great heading skills, and an uncanny nose for being at the right place at the right time in opposing boxes, and burying balls behind goal keepers.

Rashidi knew how to score goals, how to place or bend the ball far from goalkeepers, and how to shoot his cannons from long distances.
He used all these skills to great advantage as he settled into life in Shooting Stars FC and steadily built up his haul of unprecedented number of goals.

In the history of Nigerian football at the national level, only I come a little bit close to Rashidi in terms of number of goals scored for the country in the national team. He scored 37 in 58 matches over a 14-year period, whilst I scored 23 in 46 matches in 6 years!
The disbandment of Shooting Stars FC following the team’s loss in the final match of the Champions League match against Zamalek FC of Egypt at the National Stadium in Lagos, ended Rashidi’s romance with Shooting Stars. He left the club angrily, never to return again.
That’s when I also ended my football career.
1984 was the end of an incredible era for Shooting Stars FC, an era that started in 1970 and lasted 14 years.
I did not try to stop Rashidi even when I was made general manager of the team in a futile attempt to salvage something out of the very bad decision created by disbanding the team for losing in the final of an African Cup!
That’s how a new chapter opened up for Rashidi as he migrated abroad, first to Cote D’Ivoire, Portugal, Spain, Greece, and back to Nigeria.

He got to the zenith of his football career in Victoria Setubal FC in Portugal. It was whilst in Portugal that his star shone most brightly, representing both club and country.
On the eve of the 1994 World Cup in the USA, Rashidi Yekini was one of the most talked about players out of Africa in the world. He was the focus of a special World Cup edition of the international Newsweek magazine.
Rashidi did not let the world down at USA ’94.
He scored his first goal at the World Cup and celebrated it exuberantly. That goal is etched forever in the heart of Nigerians as one of their most memorable goals of the last Century.

I remember Rashidi Yekini very fondly on his 56th posthumous birthday. He was a prodigious goal scorer, a humble servant of the football, and a committed patriot with uncommon love for country, humanity and the less-privileged in society.
He paid the ultimate prize of his love for humanity with his life, when his own family foolishly mistook his generosity for insanity, and led him to an untimely death.

It is a tragedy that there is no national monument in his name anywhere in the country. One day, I hope he will be so honoured.
Continue to rest peacefully, Great Gangling! ... -odegbami/

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2019 12:09 am 

Joined: Wed Dec 24, 2003 12:39 am
Posts: 9477
Where are they now – The history making 1976 shooting stars squad?
By Segun Odegbami
03 November 2018 | 2:26 am

2018 must be the ‘fastest’ year in history. It has gone like a breeze. I can’t believe it is November already. Was it not yesterday that we had the New Year celebrations, and were looking far ahead as if December was a lifetime to go?

Here we are, the first midnight of 2019 already knocking on the door. Where did the whole of the year, from January till now go to? Come to think of it, was it not also ‘yesterday’ that I was a young man, freshly minted at the Polytechnic, travelling immediately after my final exams to Europe for the first time in my life, on my way to go to my first Olympic Games that summer in Montreal, Canada, as a Youth Corper?

In December of that same year, I was actually also playing a very major role in the winning of Nigeria’s first continental football club trophy? In that single year, I went to the moon and back.

Well, it may still seem like yesterday but the reality is that it has been 42 years since that eventful day in November of 1976, when Shooting Stars FC of Nigeria played against Tonnerre Kalala FC of the Cameroun in the first leg semifinals of the Africa Cup Winners Cup in Ibadan and defeated the team led by the legendary Roger Miller by 4-1, to make the return leg in Yaoundé, Cameroun, a mere formality.

Tonnerre Kalala won the second leg by 1-0, but that was surely just a small dent in our path to the biggest success Nigeria had recorded prior to that time in African club football.

How Time Flies
A reader wrote me this week and was asking about the whereabouts of all my colleagues in that 1976 Shooting Stars team. That got me thinking, hence today’s write-up, a tribute to some pioneers in the business of winning trophies for Nigeria.

Incidentally, I was in London last week.
For the first time in 40 years I spoke with the daughter of the British ‘missionary’ coach that led us in Shooting Stars FC to that sweet victory in 1976, Alan Hawkes.

[b] Allan Hawkes was very instrumental to Shooting Stars’ success.
He is still alive, now about 82 years old, in relatively good health and ageing remarkably well in retirement.
He has just published a book on his six years’ experience working with Shooting Stars FC in Nigeria in the 1970s. The book is released on Amazon this past week, titled, ‘Up Coach…the story of a soccer missionary’.

A few weeks ago, Allan Hawkes contacted me via my Facebook page and requested to know the fate of all his ‘boys’ in Shooting Stars, players he had not had any contact with in 40 years.

This approximates to what I sent him. He was aware that our leader and mentor, the heart and soul of Shooting Stars, Chief Olalekan Salami had passed on. The man who hired him from England, Chief Emiola Adesina, is still alive and lives in Ibadan

Of the three Nigerian coaches that worked with him, only one is still alive – Goalkeeper trainer, Amusa Adisa. The others, Joseph Ladipo aka Jossy lad and Rafiu Salami, have both passed on.

The squad had about 28 players but only 16 players actually played in one match or the other throughout the competition. The entire team scored a total of 16 goals, out of which Moses Otolorin scored eight, and I scored seven. I do not recall who scored the other single goal during the competition.

Of those that actually had a kick of the ball the following have passed on:

1.Best Ogedegbe (Bestila). He kept goal in most of the matches. He died in 2009 at 55 after working with the national junior teams of Nigeria for a few years.

2. Joe Appiah– Ghanaian, Right-full back, died in Ibadan in May 2012 at 62.

3. Samuel Ojebode – Captain and Left back. Played also for the national team for three years. He died in July 2012 at 68.

4.Dauda Adepoju– Centre Half. Quiet gentlemen, but as hard as steel. Very cerebral. Uncle to Mutiu Adepoju. He died in Ibadan a long time ago.

5.Mudashiru Babatunde Lawal (Shiru) MON, MFR – Attacking midfielder – Nigeria’s first soccer ambassador, Non-stop running, exceptionally skillful midfield player. He died in July 1991 at a very young age – 37.

6. Folorunsho Gambari (Gambus)– Defensive Midfielder. Extremely hard and hardworking defensive midfielder, reputed for his special marking tasks, including marking out Roger Miller in 1976. He died in 1981 at a very young age of around 32.

7. Moses Otolorin (Fantasia) – the man with the longest throws and the most powerful shots. He scored eight of the 16 goals the entire team scored in the 1976 African Club challenge. He died in December 2014 at 67.

8. Adekunle Awesu– Died mysteriously in 1994 in the USA at the age of 43. He was named the best left winger in Africa during the 1976 Africa Cup of Nations in Dire Dawa Ethiopia.

9. Abai Adeleye– Very quick, left winger. He died rather quietly. I am not sure of the year.

The following nine are still alive and doing relatively well:

10.Zion Ogunfeyimi (Omo oba) – In goal. Started the competition for a few of the matches. It was an injury and Best’s incredible form that year that kept Zion a bit quiet later on and on the bench. Otherwise he also was in the national team and in great shape.

11. Sam Ashante– Centre Half. Ghanaian. Very Stylish and intelligent player. He now lives in Accra, Ghana. He was a coach with the MTN academy in Accra for several years.

12. Sam Saka Abossey– Centre half. Ghanaian. Great Libero. He is married to a Nigerian woman and lives in Ghana.

13. Idowu Otubusen (Slow Poison)– Centre Half. Intelligent, calm, cool and calculative defender. Still lives in Ibadan.

14. Nathaniel Adewole (Commander) – Midfield general and dribbler extraordinaire. Greatest surprise is why he never played for the national team. Lives in Ibadan. He is a Rabbi and has remained unmarried all his life.

15. Phillip Boamah (Etu) – Dashing winger. One of the few Ghanaians to play for Nigeria’s Green Eagles. He lives with his Egba wife in Ibadan.

16. Segun Odegbami (Mathematical) – striker. Lives mostly in Abeokuta. Attempting to become the governor of Ogun State.

There were other players in the squad but that did not feature in the matches. A few that come to my mind are:
Kehinde Jeyifous – Defensive Midfield player. Lives in Ibadan; Segun Adelakun (Aya bi eyin) – Also nicknamed ‘Small Sheg’ by Allan Hawkes. Attacking winger. Lives in Akure; Rasaki Fadare (goalkeeper) late; Ismaila Bello (defender) lives in the U.S.; Kafaru Alabi (late); Olaide Ali (defender) Alive. I believe he is in the USA too; Anthony Osho (attacker).
He passed on a few years ago.

May those that have gone to sleep rest ever peacefully in the bosom of Our Creator, and those that are still alive be eternally grateful to the Creator, and enjoy the peace and comfort that life offers them for the rest of their time here on earth. ... ars-squad/

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