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INTERVIEW – Odegbami: Eagles Should Be For Africa What Brazil Is For South America

INTERVIEW – Odegbami: Eagles Should Be For Africa What Brazil Is For South America

Segun Odegbami is a Nigeria Football Legend. He won the 1980 Africa Cup of Nations with the Green Eagles – the first time by Nigeria. In this interview with Complete Sports’ SAB OSUJI, the former Nigeria captain reflects on his career, revealing that not playing in the FIFA World Cup remains the greatest ‘pain’ in his career.

The Mechanical Engineering graduate of The Polythechnic Ibadan who was thrice nominated for African Best Players for the CAF Player of the Year Award, but finished second (in 1980) and third (in 1977), says Nigeria has no justifiable reason whatsoever to miss out of the 2022 FIFA World Cup finals in Qatar. In his candid opinion, Nigeria is supposed to be to Africa, what Brazil is to South America as far as the global feast of football is concerned. He also speaks about the house, car and medal rewards former Nigerian President Shehu Aliyu Shagari gave the players after their 1980 AFCON conquest. The excerpts…

Complete Sports: Many have insinuated that not playing professional football in Europe highlights a shortfall in your illustrious playing career. What are your thoughts on this?

Odegbami: There was no shortfall in my football career. Yes, I didn’t get to play in Europe but that couldn’t in anyway be taken to be a shortfall. I played all my football here [in Nigeria] and it all ended here and well, if I must confess. So, not playing in Europe did not affect it [my career] in any way.

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I attained the greatest height, even beyond Nigeria. Thrice I was listed for African Best Footballer Award. I came second on one occasion (1980) and third on another occasion (1977). I narrowly missed going to the World Cup which was the one that I really wanted, not playing in Europe. It wasn’t even really fanciful (then) to play in Europe.

Segun-odegbami-green-eagles-1980-africa-cup-of-nations-christian-chukwu-otto-gloria-algeria-match

Segun ‘Mathematical’ Odegbami takes on Algerian defenders during the final of the 1980 Africa Cup of Nations at the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos. The Green Eagles won 3-0 to lift Nigeria’s first ever AFCON title

You became one of the Green Eagles players that won the Nations Cup for Nigeria following the 3-0 win against Algeria in the final on March 22 1980. On that occasion, President Shehu Shagari hung a gold medal on your neck for that historic feat. Where is that medal forty years and four months after?

The gold medal is in my house till date. I’m still keeping it, it’s a wonderful Souvenir, so I’m still keeping it.

And you were also given a house in Festac Town, Lagos, on that glorious night by a delighted President Shehu Shagari. Are you still living in that house or…?

Since I moved out of Festac Town, I had no need of the house any more. My children are not here, my family is not here too. Though I have a new family here, but we don’t live in that (Festac) part of town. So, it just doesn’t make any sense keeping it. So I sold it.

And the 504 Saloon Car?

As for the 504 Saloon Car, we used it until it grounded.

That’s very interesting. But between not playing in the FIFA World Cup and not being able to become the NFF President, which is more painful to Chief Patrick Olusegun Odegbami?

This is a very, very, interesting question. Well, not going to the World Cup actually pained me a great deal. That’s personal and I wish I had gone [to the World Cup] at least to experience it. But it never happened. So that one pained me, it really hurt. But not becoming the President of the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, that’s Nigeria’s loss, not my (personal) loss. I didn’t aspire to become NFF President to gain anything personal, but to add my quota to the development of the game of football in the country. So, that’s Nigeria’s loss, nothing really changed for me as far as NFF Presidency was concerned.

Looking at the composition of the present Super Eagles, would it be a surprise if the team go all the way to lift the 2022 African Cup of Nations?

It won’t be a surprise at all. The Eagles always stand a very good chance once it is in Africa. In fact, we should be winning the Nations Cup every time because if we do what we need to do well and we fail to win it, then something must have gone wrong. Some times, when our team doesn’t seem okay, we still get to the final or semi final. So, to win it in 2022 will not be a surprise at all.

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And 2022 is also a FIFA World Cup year. Does this your optimism of 2022 AFCON success transcend to Eagles’ Qatar 2022 World Cup qualification?

If we don’t qualify for the (Qatar 2022) World Cup, everybody around the Super Eagles should be sacked. Nigeria must always qualify for the World Cup. Five countries, from the continent of Africa and we don’t get to pick one of the five qualification slots for the World Cup, no, no, no, we must have to qualify. It is not even about qualification for the World Cup, we should even be aiming to win the World Cup. We should be for Africa, what Brazil is for South America, always qualifying and present at the World Cup.

super-eagles-samuel-ogbemudia-stadium-benin-city-nff-lesotho-nigeria-football-federation-afcon-2021-africa-cup-of-nations-gernot-rohr

Victor Osimhen, Samuel Chukwueze, Wilfred Ndidi, Alex Iwobi and Samuel Kalu are Nigeria’s top pick at the moment. Amongst them who would you pick as the best of the moment?

I don’t rate players like that. But truth is that they are great Ambassadors of Nigerian Football at the moment, all of them; Chukwueze, Osimhen, Ndidi, Kalu and Iwobi.

Since 2000, Nigerian player has not won the prestigious CAF African Player of the Year Award. What, in the considered view of ‘Mathematical’ Odegbami is responsible for this?

It is very clear that we haven’t had the kind of quality players compared to those that have won it for the country – Ikpeba, Amuneke, Kanu, to showcase for the CAF Awards. It’s a reflection of the quality of players that we’ve been producing of recent. We have not been able to replicate what we did when the likes of J.J Okochas, Victor Ikpebas, Nwankwo Kanus, Emmanuel Amunekes, Sunday Olisehs came up, fully expressing themselves in the game and developing their full content of the African Football and adding to it the European content to make up what they eventually became. So, we are not producing that large number of exceptionally gifted players any more.

But it appears we have a new generation coming up now. And if after this post Covid-19 thing, we do what we are supposed to do, that what this Covid-19 is going to make us do to concentrate on developing the game locally, to get players locally from here, who could now join with experiences in Europe and become truly exceptional players. I see a few of them in the horizon, and it is not impossible in the next one or two years for one or two Nigerian players to actually qualify to be African Player of the Year.

It appears Nigeria has lost that ‘fear factor’ which saw other countries develop cold feet each time they were to come up against the Super Eagles, even at club level. How could this be remedied?

These days, our players have forgotten their ‘Nigerianess’ that has physicality that we combine with our great speed, power and skills. Now, we try to be too much fanciful, we try to be ‘cosmetic’, too much passing of the ball and not enough of the flamboyance, showmanship that defines Nigerian football. We are no longer using our strength and speed that we used to make people (opponents) fear us. I remember one move that Ahmed Musa should have made during the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. If it were during our time, after failing to make that move when you had the whole field ahead of you with only defender to run to and defeat (dribble), he would have been removed from the team. So, you see, we are no longer using our strength and speed enough, that’s why.

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COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 23
  • Collins id 2 weeks ago

    you are on point sir.

     
  • Oakfield 2 weeks ago

    “I attained the greatest height, even beyond Nigeria. Thrice I was listed for African Best Footballer Award. I came second on one occasion (1980) and third on another occasion (1977). I narrowly missed going to the World Cup which was the one that I really wanted, not playing in Europe. It wasn’t even really fanciful (then) to play in Europe”…. That’s the height of your achievements after your supposed football artistry in the entirety of your career, you never won Any, only got nominated. I wonder how this kinda scanty record qualifies you to be a legend in nigerian football history and have the audacity to chastise a coach that won bronze at his first attempt. You just exposed yourself by yourself.

    “The gold medal is in my house till date. I’m still keeping it, it’s a wonderful Souvenir, so I’m still keeping it”… That’s all u have to show for your “illustrious football career”. One wouldve expected something richer going by your “pedigree” like African highest goal scorer medals, best footballer of the year medals, but it has unfortunately left So much to be desired. I guess, you may have to build a museum for that single African medal you managed to win.

    “It wasn’t even really fanciful (then) to play in Europe”.. Like seriously??? Were where u when your mates like abedi pele and roger miller were plying their trades in Europe, winning medals and making history???? Person wey no get money to buy airconditioner go say e dy cause pneumonia…. Lol… There u have it guys, your “legend” he who lives in a glass house does not throw stones

     
  • Bomboy 2 weeks ago

    @Oakfield, even if Mr Odegbami says something as obvious as “Abuja is the administrative capital of Nigeria”, you will still find fault with it. Too bad.

     
    • Oakfield 2 weeks ago

      Of course, just as he finds unecessary faults with rohr…..

       
  • Bomboy 2 weeks ago

    The first sentence of the article calls Mr. Odegbami a legend. It is not just the opinion of a few fans on CSN. We may not always agree with his opinion, but that doesn’t take anything away from the contributions he made in our national colours in the past.

    Mr Odegbami, you are appreciated sir.

     
    • Oakfield 2 weeks ago

      What qualifies him to be one? How many continental medals did he help nigeria win? How many individual medals and accolades did he win in africa and beyond? How many goals was he able to score for nigeria etc that should qualufify him to be tagged as one just like roger miller and abedi pele who were his mates when africa never open eye for football ?? Attaining a legendary status is assessed based on personal football statistical achievents and continental/intercontinental achievements . Roger miller and abedi pele all have something to show for thier legendary status but this dude has got nothing but a very scanty stomach turning cv.

       
      • And you Oakfield know this based on what?
        Maybe you should tell us how many world cup slots africa had during his era, how many national games was organized and may be you can check statistics of all GE/SE players from 50s till date and tell us. At times you guys just come to yawn opaks out of sentiment for nothing.
        In as much as I dont agree with Chief Odegbamis’ views at times, its been a pleasure to have watched him play for both club and country. I can confidently write he is one of the greatest players to have worn the green white green of Nigeria and blue and white of IICC. His goals record are thete for all to see.
        His set with Okala, Chuckwu,Atuegbu,Awesu,Ojebode,Muda Lawal, Adokie et al all played for Nigeria for the love of the game.

         
        • Oakfield 2 weeks ago

          But how come roger milla and abedi pele are miles ahead of him in terms of achievements, abi them no be mates??????

           
          • @Oakfield, Milla and odegbami played during the same era (Abedi was later). I am sure its been discussed before and on record about CAF politics especially during Hayatou era (Cameroun as a team benefited from this, so does Milla and the squad).As per club level I will not say Tonnere kalara was better. IICC beat them to 1976 cup winners cup with Milla for tonnere and Odegbami for IICC.
            The Anglophone /Francophone football politics was serious then and the advance in technology and migration of footballers from different parts of Africa to Europe really make things better now.
            Also you need to note that the African player of the year was first organized by French sport writers and mostly awarded to francophone players and players in the French league until African sports writers started theirs (which Okala worn in 1978- I think though not sure) before CAF finally took over the award.
            During Odegbami’s era, players do not need to travel to Europe or Americas, as they were comfortable back home.

            you can also see this link for more stats on African football
            http://rsssf.com/

             
          • Emecco 2 weeks ago

            Oakland, pls stop all these rubbish, do you know how many League and Challenge cup (FA cup)Titles Odegbami won with IICC? including African cup winners cup in 1976, He also scored twice as Nigerian beat Algeria 3-0 to win Afcon in 1980, You must be a novice in football if you fail to understand that he was one of Nigerias best at that time, he was the MVP at Afcon 1980 and also won bronze at Afcon 76 and 78, Now tell me what Abedi Pele did that is different, He only won Afcon with Ghana in 82, same as Odegbami did, and won few French titles with Marsielle and UCl in 93, same continental and Local Honours Odegbami won with IICC, continetal titles are same, whether in Africa, Europe, Asia or America, thats why Hossam Hassan and Aboutreka are African legends despite not playing in Europe, pls next time be more intelligent in your criticisms. We are well informed in this forum, better still be humble and learn .

             
          • Emma Ehi 2 weeks ago

            Thank you,my brothers, for enlightening our unenlightened brother Oakland. Sometimes, people say things because they don’t know any better but l am happy for the football history lesson given to Oakland.

            I just want to add to the intelligent submissions from my knowledgeable brothers that mostly in football, as in life, so many factors like circumstances, politics, the time or period etc can come in. Everyone knows what biased top football administrators do, especially in Africa, even in FIFA to influence opinions and decisions.

            For instance, J J Okocha is generally and indisputably regarded as one of the top Nigerian legends, but legendary as he was, he never won the best African footballer award no matter how hard he tried. Can we therefore conclude that lkpeba or Amunike are better than Okocha?

            Mr Oakland, that question is for you.

            Mr Mathematical Odegbami, l beg, make you no mind people wey no know football or history, you are my HERO !

             
          • Oakfield 2 weeks ago

            @ehim and Kim. All these africans u just mentioned helped their countries garner medals when football in africa was still developing, a great opportunity for him to do sane for Nigeria but all he could boast of is a nation’s cup and all Africa games medal. Roger milla and abedi pele them were scoring goals as great players for their respective countries, helping them achieve feats, why didn’t he do same for us abi na caf/franco phone politics tie him legs from scoring goals.??? This dude is just overrated.

             
          • @oakfield, what are you saying? Can you even hear yourself? With all the corrections and enlightenment you are still saying gibberish…Yanning dust like an overgrown baby. Too many sentiments.Hian! What is the hatred for na? Haba!

             
  • greenturf 2 weeks ago

    Had Mr. Odegbami won the election to boss our football,super eagles development would have been on the back foot.Because he’s an exponent of indigenization.

    He doesn’t agree with foreign expatriates and believes we are better off with our indigenous coaches most whom have failed us severally and painfully.So thank goodness it never happened,though we respect him as a legend for his great contributions to our football on the field of play.

    From this interview you can also deduce he would rather we build from home with our local players,perhaps primarily because he played locally and thinks we should go local but things have changed from his days and we are in modern times and he should understand this.What he should ask himself is the state of super eagles now under a foreign manager and the progress he has made with the team,i think that is what matters.

    Mr.Odegbami is a big influence in Nigerian football especially with the present administration.Sadly so,he presented Yobo before he was unveiled as the super eagles assistant coach fuelling our suspicion.And also fighting for home base quota in the super eagles,an idea that swayed Pinnick but refuted vehemently by Rohr and most super eagles fans.

    In conclusion,Mr.Odegbami served us well as a player a legend indeed,but his contributions outside of it has been disappointing.

     
  • kunle 2 weeks ago

    @Oakfield, your obsession with Mr Odegbami is making you to lose focus. You may not agree with him on certain issues, but that does not take his achievements and contributions to the growth and development of Nigeria football away from him. I think you need to be more objective in your criticism of him in a public domain like this, or you will eventually turn yourself to a clown.

     
  • Emma Ehi 2 weeks ago

    Thank you,my brothers, for enlightening our unenlightened brother Oakland. Sometimes, people say things because they don’t know any better but l am happy for the football history lesson given to Oakland.

    I just want to add to the intelligent submissions from my knowledgeable brothers that mostly in football, as in life, so many factors like circumstances, politics, the time or period etc can come in. Everyone knows what biased top football administrators do, especially in Africa, even in FIFA to influence opinions and decisions.

    For instance, J J Okocha is generally and indisputably regarded as one of the top Nigerian legends, but legendary as he was, he never won the best African footballer award no matter how hard he tried. Can we therefore conclude that lkpeba or Amunike are better than Okocha?

    Mr Oakland, that question is for you.

    Mr Mathematical Odegbami, l beg, make you no mind people wey no know football or history, you are my HERO !

     
    • Greenturf 2 weeks ago

      @ Emma Ehi.Oakfield is a very enlightened and informed man.His agitation rose from the malicious and unkind words against our own Rohr by the mathematical himself.His fight to pull him down against all odds,his racists view which Oakfield dispised.

      Rohr has done incredibly well with the super eagles and deserves a path in the back not showing spite or displeasure over a good job done by a 66years old.Oakfield is defending and protecting Rohr the only way he could of course he knows Mr Odegbami is a legend but turn a blind eye because he has disrespected and used venomous words,actions and was vicious to the old man so for that sake Oakfield was pained and in Nigeria we defend good vulnerable elders it’s our values and Oakfield has a right to do as he pleases to someone that has shown scorn,expressed contempt or disdain to someone who has achieved by miles and brought life back to our almost dead super eagles!

      But I would advise Oakfield to relax though he doesn’t have to take my advice.Irrespective of Mr Odegbami actions against a good and successful Rohr he should still show Odegbami respect because he’s an elder he is a human.Like the saying two wrongs cannot make a right.

       
  • @Oakfield, I have already posted a link for you. That website have both Milla and Odegbamis stats for club and country in African clubs and national competitions. Please do check the link.

     
  • Oakfield 2 weeks ago

    Roger milla btw 1970–1974, started his football career with Léopard Douala of Cameroun. He made 116 appearances and scored 89 goals. In 1974, he signed for Tonnerre (Cameroun),
    Played 87 games and scored 69 goals. At a time when our legend said playing abroad was not attractive, he signed for French club Valenciennes in 1977, made 28 apps and scored 6 goals. In 1979, he moved to Monaco from Valenciennes where he made 17 apps and scored 2 goals. Other notable clubs he played for include : Bastia, 113 apps, 35 goals. Saint-Étienne, 59 apps and 31 goals. Montpellier in 1986, 95 apps 37 goals. Saint-Pierroise, Tonnerre 116 apps, 89 goals. And the list goes on and on. In summary, he made a total of 666 apps and scored a whooping 405 goals for club career football alone. For he national team which spanned btw 1973 and 1994, he made a total of 77 apps and scored 43 good goals. Same period our so called “legend” was playing for our national team..

    Abedi pele started his senior playing career in
    1980 (same year we won our first nations cup) with Real Tamale United. He went on to play for other notable clubs like Marseill, Lille, Lyon etc. He made 77 good apps for his natonal team and scored a whooping 33 goals.

    Our own legend played only for 2 clubs in nigeria namely ibadan Housing Corporation and Shooting Stars plus the National team btw 1970 and 1981. He made a total of 47 apps for both clubs and national team and scored a scanty and disappointing 22 goals in the entirety of his football career. Roger milla and abedi and himself are all almost the same age group. All of them are all in their mid and late 60s and oalyed active football same period. Now, the big question is, making a thorough assessment of his cv Using that of other greats as mentioned here as a yardstick, how on earth should such a person be tagged a legend? I really don’t know which parameters you use in assessing that but by my assessment based on available evidence, facts and figures, this dude does not deserve to be called a legend. He was an average player during his playing days (which I witnessed myself as a teenager) and just being unnecessarily overrated. When he said playing abroad wasn’t a big deal, pele and miller were already making waves in Europe and africa. Its a pity that an old man like him has resorted to lies to cover up himself but as usual, their lies always get bursted with facts. Na dis kind person dy advise us on how to run our football. No wonder he said people with no qualifications can coach the eagles. Very disappointing.

     
  • Collins id 2 weeks ago

    odegbami made 46 app and scored 23 goals only for the eagles in just 5 years. thats a huge record for the national team. he was nominated twice for the best player in the continent but came second and third in both occasions. he won the afcon in 1980 scoring 2 goals in the final. he have won african championsleague. 3 nigeria premier league 2 fa cups. he has more than 200 club goals aswell. he is indeed a legend.

     
    • Oakfield 2 weeks ago

      Lol….. More than 200 club goals???? …. Lol… Present verifiable evidence or link to substantiate your claim with dates. How can he play for just 2 clubs and score more than 200 goals??? Another lie bursted. Lol. You guys are just a bunch of Liars including the overrated legend himself. The 22 goals on record are for club and country combined. Lol.. Overrated dude..

       
    • Emecco 2 weeks ago

      Oakland, Odegbami was a winger and not a top 9 like Milla, stop this arguement my brother, it is making a mockery of your so called knowledge of football, Milla might have had a more illustrious carrrer, but it doesnt take anything from Odegbami, he is a legend and MON, I never watched him play live, but his videos shows he is indeed a great player, One of Nigerias finest ever.

       
  • Meanwhile OGA ROHR that ODEGBAMI doessn’t want to see played for BAYERN, coached BORDEOUX to 2nd place in UCL….

    HAHAHAHAHA….

    I see the reason for the hatret…