Benson Chukwueke Benson Chukwueke Author
Title: NIGERIA FOOTBALL HEROES: The Pain After The Reign
Author: Benson Chukwueke
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Where does the football business leave former heroes like Segun Odegbami, who still want a slice of the Nigeria football administrative ...
Where does the football business leave former heroes like Segun Odegbami, who still want a slice of the Nigeria football administrative pie? It’s a different ball game now, when you’re no longer the superstar player you use to be. People’s reactions are somehow “cold” towards you; something you’re not use to. The pain of living in “loneliness” – friends are all gone, fans no longer recognize you on the street and perhaps, you’ve to beg for attention even among younger players. This kind of treatment has given most Nigeria former football heroes the feeling that they’ve labored in vain. Let us look at some of the cases of our former football stars and the pain they nurse in their heart today.

Segun Odegbami: Denied the Honor Of NFF President



Fondly called mathematical segun Odegbami because of his football skills and his calculative moves. Odegbami is perhaps, the greatest right wing attacker Nigeria has ever had. He was a vital part of the team that won the Africa cup of nations in 1980.

Odegbami is well read – a mechanical engineer with a prowess for writing. He writes column for sports newspapers and magazines. Odegbami’s dream is to become like Frank Becknebauer of Germany or Mitchell Plantini og France, who turned out to be great football administrators after retirement as football players. But Nigeria football administration has been largely politicized and Odegbami had failed in several attempts to become the NFA Chairman (Now NFF President). This has been a pain in his heart, why government continues to impose round pegs into square holes.

 Godwin Odiye: Hunted by His Own Shadow


Godwin Odiye wasn’t that popular, not until he scored that disastrous own goal – with a flip back header that beat goal keeper Emmanuel Okala hands down – which prevented Nigeria Green Eagles from qualifying for the 1978 world cup.

Today, Odiye is only remembered for that one mistake, which continued to hunt him many years after his retirement. Whenever he showed in any football circle, he’s still chided for that very mistake which is popularly known as “Odiye’s own goal.”  Odiye himself said that he cry anytime he remembers that own goal.

Rashidi Yekini: Suffering from Delusion Pesecution


 Even if you forget every other player in Nigeria, you will never forget Rashidi Yekini in a hurry – his first world cup goal in 1994 still remains fresh in our memory. Yekini is one of the greatest players Nigeria ever had. And till today, no player’s foot has been able to fit into his goal scoring boots. He’s still the highest goal scorer for the national team. He scored a total of 78 goals.  Yekini won the Africa football player of the year ---- and was also part of the team that won the African Cup of Nations in 1994.

Yekini had a very illustrious football career than span from IICC shooting stars to African Sports of Cote d’voire and then Benfica and Vitoria Setubal in Portugal. He signed millions of contracts and did well in most of the clubs. One would have thought that at retirement, Yekini would be cruising in millions of Dollars, but many people have reported seeing him in Ibadan, looking so wretch like a peasant farmer. Yekini feel so pained in his heart. He feels NFA neglected him and therefore, he rejected the offer to be Nigeria Ambassador to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.


Etim Esin:  A Complicated Hero


Well, not many kids today can recognize Etim Esin on street of Nigeria, but just before Austin Okocha began to put on the number ten Jersey, Etim Esin was the rave of Nigeria football fans.

Arguably, the most glamorous player Nigeria ever had. His football skills and his love for designer clothes made him so outstanding among his peers.  All eyes were on him and he was usually mobbed by fans even during training sessions. It got to the stage that he was disguised during training sessions for the Under 21 World up in Chile 1987.

Etim Esin immoral behavior was his undoing. At the top of his career, he had to abandon his club at Belgium because of a rape case. He was jailed in absent and banned by FIFA.

Things began to go bad for Esin that he was labeled within the football circle as a beggar and kleptomania. Recently, he was alleged to have stolen a gold wrist watch belonging to Austin Okocha, during Jay jay’s house party. Esin was news again, for wrong reason.

 We must keep honoring our former heroes. If Government still pay retired Army Generals salaries, what about our retired Nigeria football heroes? The ones who had brought so much honor to our country Nigeria.




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