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PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2020 5:41 pm 
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Following on from EII's earlier post...

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I am a member of the Nigerian national football squad that won the African Cup of Nations for the first time. Today marks exactly 40 years since that unforgettable day. This is my humble way of saluting and celebrating my colleagues!

It happened on March 22, 1980.

The Green Eagles defeated the Desert Warriors of Algeria in the final match played inside the main bowl of the 60,000 capacity National Stadium that was stretched to the limit by 100,000 spectators packed like Sardines in a can in the terraces. It was the biggest ‘party’ on the African continent that day. For 90 minutes, we played to the frenetic beat of the singing and drumming of Football Supporters Club.

The pulsating match could not have been more perfectly scripted.

Inside the first two minutes, I scored the first of a personal brace. The resultant wild celebrations in the terraces drowned any hope of resistance by the very gifted young Algerian players that had played some flawless football, until that final match.

The Algerians did not know what hit them. I scored the second goal before the end of the first half. It became only a matter of time for the third to come through Mudashiru Lawal to take the match beyond redemption.

My colleagues and I, all 22 of us, became instant national heroes, feted everywhere, and rewarded by the federal government with unprecedented gifts – a national honour each, a flat each in Festac Town, a 504 Peugeot car each, and some cash gifts.

40 years after, 6 of the 22 of us (players) and 4 of the team’s 5 technical officials have died.

On this day, I salute all my team mates and coaches for their role in that historic and memorable achievement. But where are they all now?

This is it.

Best Ogedegbe (late).



He took over from Emmanuel Okala as first choice goalkeeper following the team’s training camp in Brazil. He was so confident in goal many thought he was arrogant. As good an on-field player as he was in goal. Bestila was the perfect last line of defense. His family live in Ibadan

Emmanuel Okala.

By 1980 age had ‘mellowed’ Okala’s mystical prowess between the posts down enough for Best to take over for the championship. At 6ft 5 inches in height, he was the tallest goalkeeper in African football history, and the only goalkeeper to have won a faction of the African Player of the Year award in 1975 by the African Journalist Union. He was kept on the bench throughout the championship by Best’s mercurial goalkeeping. He lives in Enugu, riddled with health challenges but still serving as Special Adviser on football to the Governor of Anambra State.

Moses Effiong.

Very quiet but terrific gentleman. He was not given a look in as a result of the towering reputations of the two goalkeepers ahead of him. He stood very little chance of being loudly celebrated. He keeps away from football matters and limelight, and lives a quiet life with his family in Calabar.

DEFENSE

Frank Nwachi

Frank made his name as a club player for ACB in Lagos. He was a shadow in the squad throughout the championship. A very strong defender who could not display anyone of the giants in Nigeria’s Central defense. He currently lives in the US with his family.

Christian Chukwu

‘Chairman’ Chukwu was a born leader. He was at the heart and soul of the Nigerian team, his conduct and style determining how the team played. He was the general at the rear, conducting the orchestra and establishing the tempo of the team. Powerful, cool and an excellent passer of the long ball, he was named ‘player of the championship’. He has had recent challenges with his health, had some surgeries abroad and is still recuperating in Enugu where he lives.

Godwin Udiye



One of the great central defenders of that era. He was so good that he came back from the United States 3 years after he left Nigeria to play again for the Green Eagles. He appeared fleetingly during the championship and returned to his San Francisco base immediately after, where he still lives with his family, working as a grassroots coach in his own football academy.

Tunde Bamidele (Late)

Tunde was one of the last players to join the Eagles’ Central defense deservedly. He formed a solid pair with Chukwu and, between them, they kept most dangerous attackers at bay. He was hard, very clever, and difficult to beat on the ground and in the air. His family live in Ibadan.

David Adiele.

Hard and rugged right full-back who loves to overlap. Hewn on the rough terrain of Cameroonian football where he started his career, he lived and played rough. He lives now in Houston, Texas, with his family.

Okey Isima (Late)



Right-footed midfield player converted to left-full back position by Professor Otto Gloria. One of the first set of Nigerians to play professional football in Portugal in the early 1980s’. An elegant player on the ball with his silky skills.

John Orlando

A Ghanaian. How he escaped nationality-scrutiny is still a mystery. He played at left-back in one match. Now a businessman, John lives in the US and shuttles between the US and Ghana.

Sylvanus Okpala

Nicknamed ‘Quicksilver’ because of his blistering pace, strength and skills. A natural central midfield player converted to play in the right back position.

He is still involved in football as an agent and coach, with residences in Lagos and Enugu. He shuttles between the two cities. One of the two players that still occupy their flats in Festac Town Lagos.

MIDFIELD

Henry Nwosu

I call him the ‘Youngest Millionaire’. At 17, he was the youngest member of the team.

When he was at his best, he was good enough with the b

all at his feet to play for any team in the world. He is the second member that still lives in the Festac Flat in Lagos. He works from time to time as a coach.

Mudashiru Lawal (Late)

One of the most gifted players in Nigeria’s history. A complete player. Defensive-midfield player that was drafted to play as a decoy centre-forward in the final match. He nailed the Algerians with the final goal after a series of earlier misses. He died at only 37.. His family live in the UK.

Alloysius Atuegbu (Late)

The ‘Blockbuster’ of Nigerian football. Short, stout, powerfully built, great skills on the ball, powerful shots in both feet and endless worker in midfield. Perfect link between defense and attack. He died in 2008 at 55. His family live in Enugu.

Kadiri Ikhana

Nicknamed Kawawa. He was a reliable utility player who could play in almost all positions except in goal. He was always introduced to solve problems in positions during matches. He became one of the most successful domestic football coaches and now lives in Abeokuta, Ogun State. In the past few months he has been undergoing some corrective surgeries in Nigeria to his hips and spine. He has temporarily retired from coaching and taking care of his health.

Shafiu Mohammed

Most hardworking ‘destroyer’ in midfield with his endless running. He does all the ‘dirty’ work of marking out any dangerous opposing player. He qualified as a coach, did a little coaching, but has been jobless for many years. He lives in Jalingo, Taraba State.

ATTACK

Ifeanyi Onyedika

Another one of the young players in the squad. He was primed to become the next Centre-forward the country was looking for since Thompson Usiyen left the country. It was not an easy shoe to fill. He was elegant to watch on the ball. He lives and works as a coach in Enugu.

Felix Owolabi

Owoblow. One of the spectators’ favourite players. He uses his power and speed to burrow through teams’ defenses. On the move, racing down the left flank, either as a full back or a winger, he is difficult to stop. He now lives in Ibadan, Oyo State, after retiring from the Civil Service.

Adokie Amiesiamaka


Nicknamed Chief Justice, Adokie was a master of the art of the dribble, his mesmerizing movements with the ball were sheer poetry, and a delight to watch.

A right-footed player that operated on the left side of the field. He retired as Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of Rivers State many years ago. He lives in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, and continues to practice law.

Martin Eyo (Late)

Martin was always the useful fringe player, coming in as substitute in attack. Deft with both feet, he could not break through and retain a first team slot. He was a respected mechanical engineer with Julius Berger at the time he died. His family still lives in Lagos.

Segun Odegbami



What do I write about myself? My nickname was Mathematical.

I played well, scored three goals (as I did in Ghana 1978), and left my mark.

I live between Lagos and Abeokuta now, and work as a sports consultant and educationist.

The Coaches of the team

were:



Professor Otto Gloria, President of the Brazil Coaches Association and Coach of Portugal to the 1966 World Cup in England. He died at 69, six years after winning the Nations Cup.

Professor Raul Carlesso, his assistant and goalkeeper trainer. He is also late.

Isaac Nnado was the second assistant coach. He is late. His family live in Lagos, Enugu and the United States.

John Zandayi was the interpreter for the two Brazilian coaches even though he had a degree in football from the University in Rio De Janeiro. He moved to Borno State after his role in 1980, and still lives in Maiduguri.


https://www.operanewsapp.com/ng/en/share/detail?news_id=9ab630501bcd49356572c21a77c79d9c&news_entry_id=s4b49501b200323en_ng&open_type=tanscoded&request_id=*****&from=publisher&fbclid=IwAR0sTJSsB9vi5zOuzDTMT_RwhpQudhIoZvBACEUVIbujCuSQueqrsVbKb6k

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 24, 2020 5:46 pm 
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2020 11:21 am 
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Shafiu Mohammed....


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2020 4:34 pm 
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...Odegbami is a treasure with all this first-person history he continue to give us, God bless him. I still remember those days.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2020 12:05 pm 
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mcal wrote:
...Odegbami is a treasure with all this first-person history he continue to give us, God bless him. I still remember those days.


I agree, writes it in such an easily readable manner as well.


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