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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2020 9:48 pm 
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Sad ending.

https://breakingthelines.com/historical/11056/

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The Tragic Story of Wilfred Agbonavbare

June 12, 2020 Historical

An idol in Spain and a champion in Nigeria, ex Rayo Vallecano goalkeeper Wilfred Agbonavbare faced racism and prejudice throughout his seven years in Spain, before retiring at 31 years old due to a lack of teams that were willing to take a chance on him.

After his retirement, the Lagos native settled in Madrid and bounced around from job to job, working as a delivery man and a goalkeeper coach. He lost his wife to cancer in 2012, and three years later, he passed away at the age of 48 from the same disease. At the time of his death, he was unemployed and seeking financial aid from Nigerians and the Nigerian government.

But before life’s obstacle course ensnared him in its trap, Willy, as he was known back then, built an impressive reputation for himself as a goalkeeper, beginning his career at 16 years of age.

Early Beginnings in Lagos

Born in Lagos, Nigeria on October 5, 1966, Agbonavbare began his career in 1983 for New Nigerian Bank FC, a team based in Benin City. He remained there for six years before joining Gboko-based BCC Lions. His excellent performances between the sticks called the attention of Rayo Vallecano, who signed him in 1990.

At the international level, he started in goal for the Super Eaglets in the 1983 FIFA World Youth Championships in Mexico. Nigeria crashed out at the group stage, but that didn’t stop him from amassing 15 caps for the senior team. While he played second fiddle to Peter Rufai, he made history in 1994 by winning the African Cup of Nations and being called up for the FIFA World Cup — Nigeria’s first ever appearance in a World Cup.

Despite retiring a year earlier, there were still expectations that ‘Willy’ would be called up for the 1998 World Cup in France. However, while he entered in the preliminary list for the tournament, then manager Bora Milutinović went with FC Sion’s Abiodun Baruwa in his place.

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Rise to Fame in Vallecas

Between 1990 to 1996, Agbonavbare played in 177 matches for Los Vallecanos, 76 of which came in Spain’s first division. The Nigerian spent his first two seasons in Iberia playing in the Segunda, before becoming an undisputed starter in his second season and leading Rayo to promotion.

On December 6, 1992, he had one of the best performances of his career, against Benito Floro’s Real Madrid. The Franjirrojos scored twice in the first half, but Los Blancos responded with a flurry of attacks. Nevertheless, Agonavbare was up to the task, producing a plethora of incredible saves to keep a clean sheet. With each save, the Vallecas faithful chanted, “Willy, Willy!”

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In the return fixture on May 9, Agonavbare not only saved Míchel’s penalty, but managed a number of incredible saves to earn a point at the Santiago Bernabéu. Real Madrid would go on to lose the title by one point to Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona; the Blaugranas can thank Rayo’s Nigerian goalkeeper for their 1992-93 championship.

These incredible performances left a sour taste in the mouths of Madrid fans, who shouted racist insults at him during the match. “Negro, cabrón, recoge el algodón.” “Black, *kindperson*, pick the cotton.” They also chanted “Ku Klux Klan” at him.

One middle-aged Madrid fan even exclaimed in Spanish, “The %$#@^& black guy of Rayo is to blame,” on live television, much to the amusement of the teenage fans surrounding him. One younger fan said, “We are going to beat up the black son of a *Nice Lady* of Vallecas on Sunday, at least I am.”

When asked after the match about the racist abuse he suffered, Agonavbare responded, “It’s normal, I’m black, and having made as many saves as I did today, I expected them to shout at me. But I’m a footballer and it’s nothing, I’m only concentrated on the match.”

After the disgusting racist incident, the Bukaneros, an extreme wing of the Rayo Vallecano fanbase, emerged with a mission plan dedicated to fighting discrimination of any kind. With a left-leaning, anti-fascist philosophy, the Bukaneros are far more than any regular ultra group.

Retirement and Post-Playing Career

In the 1995-96 season, Agonavbare lost his starting spot to ex Spanish international Abel Resino. In search of playing time, he joined second-division side Écija, but after the Andalusian side was relegated to the third tier, the Nigerian’s contract was not renewed. He spent a year training in order to stay fit and prepare for a new opportunity, but without any offers, he retired at the age of 31.

He remained in the Madrid area, working as a goalkeeper coach and a deliveryman for a mail service. In 2012, his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, and Agonavbare had to scrape together the little money he had to pay for her medical treatment. After she passed away, he switched jobs, working as a baggage and cargo handler at Madrid’s Barajas Airport.

In the final months of 2014, Agonavbare was diagnosed with cancer. Unable to return home to see his children, who he had not seen in nearly 10 years, the Bukaneros raised money so that his children could visit him one last time.

One Rayo fan, who himself had been aided financially by other Rayo supporters, donated the majority of the funds to meet the campaign’s goal. However, his children’s visit was delayed due to visa problems, and on January 27, 2015, Agonavbare died alone.

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Legacy in Vallecas

It’s been over 24 years since Agonavbare last played for Rayo, and yet, he is still fondly remembered by the fanbase. In 2011, he was invited to participate in the 15th annual “Anti-Racism Week,” an event organized by Rayo supporters to combat racial discrimination.

As a tribute, one of the entrances to the Estadio de Vallecas is named after him, titled, “Willy Forever.” On the top left corner, the dedication reads, “For your defense of the red stripe and your fight against racism, Rayismo will never forget you.”

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By: Karoline Tavares of Ponta de Lança

Translated by: Zach Lowy

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2020 10:46 pm 
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I always had him down as an out an out Bini boy, I think he played for Edokpolor grammar school as well.

A real shame the way he passed, he was excellent at NNB.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2020 11:08 pm 
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Very underrated goalkeeper. He was Nigeria's most high profile goalkeeper in 1994 and many European commentators couldn't understand why he was on the bench in 1994 WC.
Tragic ending.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 12:03 am 
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Really sad to hear this story :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry:

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Last edited by Toxicarrow on Sun Jun 14, 2020 12:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 12:03 am 
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Dammy wrote:
Very underrated goalkeeper. He was Nigeria's most high profile goalkeeper in 1994 and many European commentators couldn't understand why he was on the bench in 1994 WC.
Tragic ending.

He kept in several qualifiers for the 1994 World Cup and AFCON. Significantly, he was in goal away in Algeria the night we qualified for the World Cup by drawing 1-1. Great goalkeeper.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 12:26 am 
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Sad. Naija should learn to take care of their own

RIP Agbona "Basket"

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 12:33 am 
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Rawlings wrote:
Sad. Naija should learn to take care of their own

RIP Agbona "Basket"

Not the time for your stupid Nigeria bashing. Grow up or leave.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 3:09 am 
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Dammy wrote:
Very underrated goalkeeper. He was Nigeria's most high profile goalkeeper in 1994 and many European commentators couldn't understand why he was on the bench in 1994 WC.
Tragic ending.


The SE match in the defunct WAFU Cup against Togo(?) in Benin Republic(?) did him in. Can't remember the year again. But in That match SE was leading 2-1 with Willy in the post. Then light in the stadium went off. Light came back and the match resumed. At the end SE lost 4-2 and he was UNJUSTLY blamed for the lost and given a nickname he never couldn't get rid of. From then on, despite his ratings in Europe SE handlers never trusted him well enough to be #1. A very well under rated goalie.
May his simple soul rest in perfect peace.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 3:49 am 
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Is that Ben Iroha in the picture with him?

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 8:54 am 
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Rawlings wrote:
Sad. Naija should learn to take care of their own

RIP Agbona "Basket"

This is extremely stupid of you! Is this meant to be a joke?

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 8:56 am 
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deanotito wrote:
Is that Ben Iroha in the picture with him?

IK Uche.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 9:03 am 
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Dammy wrote:
Rawlings wrote:
Sad. Naija should learn to take care of their own

RIP Agbona "Basket"

This is extremely stupid of you! Is this meant to be a joke?
The guy is just....sick.
Revolting.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 11:40 am 
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Rawlings wrote:
Sad. Naija should learn to take care of their own

RIP Agbona "Basket"


Very insensitive of you. Now eat "^&! and die!!

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 7:25 pm 
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Wilfred was the starter for most of the 94 world cup qualifiers and was actually pretty good in goal for most of the qualifiers. The team always seemed to conceed a goal late in most of the qualifiers, even in the games we won. Not sure if he was blamed for that. Rufai was recalled shortly before the 94 CAN and world cup proper and Wilfred lost his starting spot.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 8:08 pm 
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Aswani wrote:
I always had him down as an out an out Bini boy, I think he played for Edokpolor grammar school as well.

A real shame the way he passed, he was excellent at NNB.


He went to the 1983 Youth tournament in the midst of his WAEC exam. Yes he was with Edokpolor grammar school. I think he even missed some matches.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 8:12 pm 
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azuka wrote:
Dammy wrote:
Very underrated goalkeeper. He was Nigeria's most high profile goalkeeper in 1994 and many European commentators couldn't understand why he was on the bench in 1994 WC.
Tragic ending.


The SE match in the defunct WAFU Cup against Togo(?) in Benin Republic(?) did him in. Can't remember the year again. But in That match SE was leading 2-1 with Willy in the post. Then light in the stadium went off. Light came back and the match resumed. At the end SE lost 4-2 and he was UNJUSTLY blamed for the lost and given a nickname he never couldn't get rid of. From then on, despite his ratings in Europe SE handlers never trusted him well enough to be #1. A very well under rated goalie.
May his simple soul rest in perfect peace.


I think the match ended 5-2. Yes he conceded some funny goals that day. The memorable one was when he was suppose to kick the ball (I think it was a back pass) and he kicked the air and the ball just rolled into the net. There was another cross (was it a corner) that he just parried into the net similar to Fregene vs Zambia in Libya ANC.

That Togo match affected his confidence with fans never trusting him.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 10:36 pm 
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wanaj0 wrote:
Aswani wrote:
I always had him down as an out an out Bini boy, I think he played for Edokpolor grammar school as well.

A real shame the way he passed, he was excellent at NNB.


He went to the 1983 Youth tournament in the midst of his WAEC exam. Yes he was with Edokpolor grammar school. I think he even missed some matches.

He missed the first match against USSR and came in at half time for Patrick Udoh in the 2nd game against Brazil with Nigeria 3-0 down and that was the final score. He kept in the final group match against a Holland team led by a young Marco Van Basten. He didn't concede a goal in the U20 WC in Mexico.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2020 2:26 am 
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wanaj0 wrote:
azuka wrote:
Dammy wrote:
Very underrated goalkeeper. He was Nigeria's most high profile goalkeeper in 1994 and many European commentators couldn't understand why he was on the bench in 1994 WC.
Tragic ending.


The SE match in the defunct WAFU Cup against Togo(?) in Benin Republic(?) did him in. Can't remember the year again. But in That match SE was leading 2-1 with Willy in the post. Then light in the stadium went off. Light came back and the match resumed. At the end SE lost 4-2 and he was UNJUSTLY blamed for the lost and given a nickname he never couldn't get rid of. From then on, despite his ratings in Europe SE handlers never trusted him well enough to be #1. A very well under rated goalie.
May his simple soul rest in perfect peace.


I think the match ended 5-2. Yes he conceded some funny goals that day. The memorable one was when he was suppose to kick the ball (I think it was a back pass) and he kicked the air and the ball just rolled into the net. There was another cross (was it a corner) that he just parried into the net similar to Fregene vs Zambia in Libya ANC.

That Togo match affected his confidence with fans never trusting him.


Yes the match ended 5-2. And not only the fans, even subsequent SE coaches never trusted him again.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2020 9:29 am 
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azuka wrote:
wanaj0 wrote:
azuka wrote:
Dammy wrote:
Very underrated goalkeeper. He was Nigeria's most high profile goalkeeper in 1994 and many European commentators couldn't understand why he was on the bench in 1994 WC.
Tragic ending.


The SE match in the defunct WAFU Cup against Togo(?) in Benin Republic(?) did him in. Can't remember the year again. But in That match SE was leading 2-1 with Willy in the post. Then light in the stadium went off. Light came back and the match resumed. At the end SE lost 4-2 and he was UNJUSTLY blamed for the lost and given a nickname he never couldn't get rid of. From then on, despite his ratings in Europe SE handlers never trusted him well enough to be #1. A very well under rated goalie.
May his simple soul rest in perfect peace.


I think the match ended 5-2. Yes he conceded some funny goals that day. The memorable one was when he was suppose to kick the ball (I think it was a back pass) and he kicked the air and the ball just rolled into the net. There was another cross (was it a corner) that he just parried into the net similar to Fregene vs Zambia in Libya ANC.

That Togo match affected his confidence with fans never trusting him.


Yes the match ended 5-2. And not only the fans, even subsequent SE coaches never trusted him again.

I watched the SE play against Zimbabwe in an AFCON qualifier in 1989 at the Adamasingba Stadium in Ibadan. Wilfred was in goal any anytime the ball went into the SE box, the fans were shouting " eh eh eh", as if expecting some calamity. We won 3-0 but the reaction of the fans would have done nothing for his confidence.

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