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Odegbami: ‘Mathematical’ Returns To The Football Field! 

Odegbami: ‘Mathematical’ Returns To The Football Field! 

This is not a joke.

I am in Accra, Ghana, as I write this.

I am under the influence of divine inspiration of some sort.

I am about to undertake an ‘impossible’ mission – return to the football field.

The generations that never saw me ‘razzle and dazzle’ on the field should braze up for an unusual treat as set out to accomplish what I could not when I played football in the 1970s and 1980s. I wish I knew then what I know now about the game and its power to change the world, I would have done much more and achieved more.

The source of my inspiration is a lecture I listened to on Thursday by Professor A. Bolaji Akinyemi, former Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, former Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, NIIA, an eminent scholar and master of International Relations and Diplomacy, at the NIIA’s main auditorium in Lagos. 

For 90 minutes, the packed hall was mesmerised by the brilliance of the man. I ingested and digested every word, lapping up the story of the world politics, and  drawing inspiration from the challenges he finally posed for all Africans. I was left dreaming possibilities, enough to inspire me into the wilderness of my newest ambition. 

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The challenge is that Professor Akinyemi, a very respected global scholar during his days as a diplomat, is 80 years old. He was drawn out of his retirement to tell, for the umpteenth time, the sorry story of Africa, its place as a pawn through most of history, its pitiable place today in the world, and the imperative now to think and create a new future for the continent, because ‘Out of every cataclysm emerges opportunity for progress and development’.

He admitted he was forced out of retirement to return to the field of political discourse and scholarship by Professor Eghosa Osaghae, the current Director-General of the NIIA. 

He took up the challenge, albeit reluctantly, because to tell the story is to shoot from the hips. It was a big risk for a retired old man to present the truth, as doing so would require firing the bullets of facts, figures and history, and hurting the sensibilities of very powerful forces in the process. 

I can imagine the cringing that must be going on in the corridors of certain powers when his eye-popping revelations become available to the public. Even now, as I recall his words, I shudder in dread, anticipation and excitement. Every Nigerian, every African, indeed, every person of African descent, should get a copy of that lecture to read, to digest, and to be inspired as I was. Professor Akinyemi prepared all of us in that audience for the inevitable emergence of a new world order. 


Professor Bolaji Akinyemi

I left Lagos for Accra, thinking about the experience and fitting it into my understanding of life’s jigsaw puzzle. Football and International politics may be directly unrelated fields, but they, surely, are connected by a common cord of Africa’s ultimate goals. 

That’s my interest as I now go into the twilight of my own life. Like Professor Akinyemi, I am coming out of retirement too to seek now to achieve those things that I ‘failed’ to achieve when I played football in the 1970s and 1980s. Since retiring in 1984, I have been swimming in the deep waters of three unfulfilled dreams: wishing I had won the African Club Championship in 1984; wishing I had gone to play at the World Cups in 1978 and 1982; and wishing I had won the Best African Player of the Year award. 

I came within touching distance of all three ambitions with only a very last hurdle to cross on all the occasions.

They were useful lessons about life that will serve me well now in this my newest ambition. 

Now that I have joined the Septuagenarian club, I have started to drink well from the fountains of Nelson Mandela, Kwame Nkrumah, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, PLO Lumumba,  and now, Bolaji Akinyemi, and I shall be embarking on this seemingly impossible mission to achieve my greatest and unfulfilled dreams.  

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By the way, Professor A. Bolaji Akinyemi’s lecture was titled ‘Towards a New World Order’. Significantly, it was a historical excursion into Africa’s journey as a Victim of the shenanigans of Imperialist forces through several Centuries. Africa has meandered through it all with shame and pain. 

The lecture ends on a hopeful note of ambition, with a peek into the future. If Africans, at home and in the Diaspora, can seize the moment, come together and strategically work their way they will emerge from the present economic, political and social cataclysm as equal partners in a New World Order. 

According to Professor PLO Lumumba, the legal giant from Kenya, when it is time to sit at the Table of Civilisations, Africans must now choose whether to be Waiters (as has been their lot for Centuries) or Diners

Like a jigsaw puzzle, I start to see clearly how everything is falling into place in this global chaotic labyrinth. I also see the small part that I shall be playing, creating the innovative tools to support the possibility of a new African frontier. It is a path that leads to the fulfilment of my previously unattained ambitions. So, I am now dusting my boots to return again to the football fields of Africa.

Africa shall not ‘win’ by fighting the conventional wars any more. We must take Professor Bolaji Akinyemi’s treatise beyond the realm of postulations, to that of specific actions. Africa must now play the ‘fool’ and deploy the ‘foolish’ things of this world to confound the ‘wise’ and the ‘powerful’ and earn our rightful place in the emerging new world order.

In the picture before me, I see that it will take the next creative and innovative 12 years to accomplish. That is not a long time in history. I am excited.

I shall be inviting all to come and watch my return to the field of football on November 22, 2022 as I chase my unfulfilled ultimate dreams. 

This is not a joke!


Segun Odegbami


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  • Another great article by the ever-visionary Mathematical, Engineer, Chief Segun Odegbami [MON]!
    You’re always welcome. You can do whatever you want to. You alongside your generation of Nigerian players have earned that right. Those of us who witnessed your greatness will always support you and your fellow legends.

    Please pay no mind to the indomie-generation who have no clue regarding your massive contribution to Nigerian sports and culture. Let them continue to foolishly scribble racial and tribal epithets at you instead of drawing from your deep well of wisdom.
    You have the backing of well-meaning Nigerian soccer fans to run any tactically challenged, half-baked foreign coach out of town.
    Nigeria should not be a dumping ground of inferior foreign coaches.

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