HERITAGE OF A GREAT FOOTBALL CLUB: Rangers International Remains A Lone Ranger in Nigeria’s Elite League

Since 1970, Rangers International football club of Enugu, otherwise known as Enugu Rangers, has weathered all the storms – tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes – and today, it stands ever strong as a lone ranger. The only club that has survived the ever raging weathers of Nigeria football for the past 42 years. It’s on record that Enugu Rangers has never been relegated to a lower league nor has it ever disbanded nor changed it’s brand name or ownership, which has been the trademark of most football clubs in Nigeria.

Apart from 3SC, which may be ranked in it’s cadre, Enugu Rangers lost all it’s contemporaries in the old Nigeria national division one league. According to Onyishi Maduka Samuel, the chairman of the club, “You only need to look at Enugu Rangers’ history to appreciate the rich heritage of Nigeria football.”

Enugu Rangers remains the pride of the East. Formed just after the fall of Biafra by governor of the East-central state of Nigeria. In those good old days Nigeria was so interesting, reminisce Onyishi Maduka,  “Though, football club where formed out of tribal sentiments, Rangers International was the flying Antelope of the Ibo Tribe.” It was like the continuation of the civil war, players of Ibo origin were convinced to support their people by signing-up to play for Rangers. And you felt the fester of power, emotions and tribal sentiments, when Enugu Rangers played clubs like IICC shooting stars of Ibadan, Raca Rovers or Mighty Jets of Jos, as they say, it’s like where two great elephants are fighting, only the grass suffered…”  “But you can be rest assured of one thing, the stadium were always filled to capacity – such matches were sold out hours before the game commenced.”

Enugu Rangers had such legendary players, Christian Chukwu a.k.a Chairman, the influential captain of Nigeria national team, Green Eagles, which won 1980 Africa Cup of Nations. And goal Keeper Emmanuel Okala, Allocious Atuegu, Ogidi Ibeawuchi, Christian Madu… who were all part of the victorious 1980 Green Eagles Squad.

Perhaps, those crop of players during the 70s’ and early 80s’ were responsible for most of the club’s achievements. Enugu Rangers had won:
·         Africa Cup winners in 1977
·         Nigeria national league 6 times between 1974 – 84
·         Challenge Cup 5 times between 1974 – 83
·         Finals of Africa Cup of Champions in 1975
Presently, the club is still doing well with some young enterprising players, goal keeper Uche Okafor, who was part of the Golden Eaglets team that won FIFA U-17 World tournament in 2007. The Togolese goal keeper, Mensah Souhoho, Ekene Igwe, Ikechukwu Okemiri, Chikeluba Ofoedu…

Today, it’s no more a tribal war, Enugu Rangers strong rivals are now fellow eastern clubs, Heartland Of Owerri and Eyimba of Aba. But the character and consistency of Enugu Rangers put them ahead of any team in Nigeria. It can only be compared with some of the greatest football clubs in the world.  Presently managed by a seasoned tactician, Okey Emordi. When the players line up in their white and red jersey in the ultra modern 25, 000 capacity Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium, it’s like the radiance of stars.

Enugu Rangers is one of the strongest football brand in Africa, and the governor of Enugu state and vice president of the club, Sullivan Chime said, “It’s even getting better. Enugu Rangers has paid off all it’s liabilities and it’s the first club in Nigeria to go public, selling it’s own shares at the stock exchange. Indeed, the real lesson other clubs should learn from Rangers International FC, is how perseverance and consistency can pay-off in their quest for success.

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