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The Exit Of An Unusual Eagle – Philip Boamah!  –Odegbami

The Exit Of An Unusual Eagle – Philip Boamah!  –Odegbami

Except you are a die-hard football fan, a serious documenter of Nigeria’s football history, and above 50 years of age, it is most unlikely that you would know much about a name known in Ibadan football circles as Etu (Yoruba for a Hare) because of his incredible speed on the football field.

Let me start with the bad news.

Two days ago, last Thursday morning, Philip Boamah died in Ibadan. He had made that city his home for the past 50 years since he arrived on the shores of Nigeria from Accra, Ghana in 1971.

He was a great friend and football companion. I am paying him this little tribute as, yet, another point of reference for the army of great football heroes that served the game and Nigeria very well but languished in the latter part of their lives after illustrious playing careers in the silence of neglect and forgotten history.

Philip was without question a most unusual by special Eagle.

He was a Ghanaian, a full-blooded Ghanaian, born and bred in Ghana, and honed in the football tradition of Ghana of the early 1970s.

Also Read: The ‘Return’ Of Tony Igwe – ‘World 2’ !  –Odegbami

His movement to Nigeria was a result of the political crisis that engulfed Ghana at the time, and the resultant economic downturn in the country.

At the same time, Nigeria was awash in Petro-Dollars, and the country became the choice- destination for many African economic migrants. Ghanaian football, up till the early 1970s, was superior to Nigeria’s, and Ghanaian players were highly-priced commodities in African football.

Some of the best players in the continent were from Ghana – Baba Yara, Sunday Ibrahim, Mohammed Polo, Abdul Razak, Opoku Afriye, Adolf Armah, Opoku Nti, Osei Kofi, and so on.

So, Nigeria, with Petro-Dollars flowing like running tap water, attracted a whole galaxy of them. Phillip Boamah was one of those who joined the ‘migration train’ to Lagos.

Ghanaian players and some Nigerians that were either born in Ghana or grew up there that also returned ‘home’ brought a new dimension to Nigerian football, enriching it with their Brazilian flair and show-boating, considerably lifting the standard, competitiveness, and followership of the domestic game. The players were spread all over the country in different clubs – Stationary Stores in Lagos, Raccah Rovers in Kano, Sharks in Port Harcourt, Asabatex in Asaba, Mighty Jets in Jos, and, of course,  IICC Shooting Stars in Ibadan where Sam Asante, Nathaniel Adewole, Sam Abossey, Kafaru Alabi, Amusa Adisa, Joseph Appiah, and Philip Boamah all berthed.

Other Ghanaians/Nigerians in other clubs included Raymond Quacopoon, Annas Ahmed, Sanni Mohammed, Baba Alli, Husseini Suleiman, Yakubu Mambo, and Muhammed Lawal. Baba Otu Mohammed, Shefiu Mohammed, John Benson, John Orlando, and so on.

Also Read: Good Tidings From FIFA For Nigerian Football!  –Odegbami

Several Ghanaian players went on to play for the national team of Nigeria, the Green Eagles, only because of their names that sounded very Nigerian, or were disguised by their Arabic origins.  Such names included all the Mohammeds.

But there were two players whose names were completely Ghanaian, yet, they played for Nigeria purely on the strength of their exceptional talent and ability, qualities that overshadowed their nationality.

Before Leotis Boateng played for the Green Eagles from 1977 to 1980 as a full-blooded Ghanaian, there was Philip Kweku Boamah!

He was invited to Nigeria’s national team in 1974/1975 and was given a Nigerian name (Kolawole) and a Nigerian passport by the football federation.  He then played for Nigeria for two years.

Following his ‘adoption’ by Nigeria,  he cemented his relationship with the country by marrying a young beautiful Egba girl from a renowned family in Abeokuta.

Except for his parents’ and siblings’ burial ceremonies, Philip never returned to his original roots again until he died two days ago.

Philip Boamah was one of the brightest stars in the Shooting Stars team of the mid-1970s that emerged as a regional challenge to Rangers International of Enugu for the dominance of Nigerian football.

Of all the Ghanaian players that were in Shooting Stars, he was the only one who went on to play for the Green Eagles. That speaks volumes.

Philip was a great winger. Operating from the right side of attack, he flew down the flank with or without the ball,  outsprinting defenders, and lifting beautifully floated, pin-point crosses to waiting heads, including mine.

Philip was the typical fast winger of the 1970s style, a major threat to defences. He represents a whole army of former football heroes who spent most of their lives after their football careers, in the anguish of ignorance, of neglect, the absence of history and documentation, and the invasion of the football space by those with limited knowledge about Nigerian football history.

Two days ago, Philip Kweku Kolawole Boamah, passed on. He was one of my closest friends during our footballing years with whom I shared many experiences and times in football at the club level.

Also Read: To Sack Jose Peseiro, Or Not!  –Odegbami

His passage was a devastating blow to me because I did not know that the past one month had been a nightmare for him and his family.

A complete gentleman, In his usual manner of keeping things to himself, not wishing to stir up any recrimination for ‘disturbing’ the peace of other people, he kept his health challenge to himself.

Unfortunately, it deteriorated very rapidly in the past month. By the time he was being taken to the University Teaching Hospital last Wednesday night, there was little that could have been done to help him.

Philip was a solid member of the great Shooting Stars team that won the first continental trophy for Nigeria in 1976. Before then played for the Green Eagles, the national team for almost two years.

Thereafter, he married a Nigerian girl, built his house and a home in Ibadan where he lived for the rest of his life after football with his family of grown-up adults now.

He coached several clubs after his playing career and only stopped as a result of a freak motor accident he had during one of the numerous trips for football matches. He hurt his eyes and his shoulder and both impaired his ability to function well in that field again.

I will surely miss my bosom friend.  Philip Kweku Kolawole Boamah, Etu, was 73!




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