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Ugbade: How I Gatecrashed The 1985 Eaglets’ Camp And Became Captain

Ugbade: How I Gatecrashed The 1985 Eaglets’ Camp And Became Captain

Former Golden Eaglets captain Nduka Ugbade has revealed exclusively to Naijasuperfans.com how he stormed the national youth team camp without an invitation, but ended up becoming the captain who led the team to World Cup glory at the FIFA U-16 World Cup at China ’85.

The 50-year old traced his foray into the game of football which was to give him fame and fortune as an accomplished international player.

Ugbade said: “I started football as a small boy like any other. Back then, Nigeria was very good with a lot of programmes for football and other sports. We had the Youth Sports Federation of Nigeria (YSFON), we had the body responsible for primary school sports and the one for secondary schools competitions were organised on zonal bases and from there to the states and then inter states like the national sports festival. At the end of the day, you have a pool of players to choose from for any competition at any level.

“We had the Greater Tomorrow concept which is a wonderful idea by the way and we had academies and various youth clubs. So we started very early playing what they called ‘Felele football’ on the streets. Any open space was good enough for us and we made football from all sorts of materials.”

Ugbade graduated from that street soccer to an organised competitions when he started playing for Samco Stars and was spotted by YSFON officials who included him in their plans from the age of 12.

“We were with the YSFON team under the auspices of the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development. So we normally played national competitions since the age of 12 or thereabouts. We also were exposed to lots of international youth competitions like the Gothia Cup, the Dana Cup, the Cup of State in Brazil, Umbro Cup, Aberdeen Cup and the rest,” he recalled.

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However, when the time came for the formation of the U-16 team, Ugbade was not invited to camp alongside his former YSFON colleagues.

He narrates his journey into the team from where he launched his career into stardom.


Captain Ugbade as the captain of world champions, the Golden Eaglets, in 1985


“I was opportuned to attend one or two of these competitions with YSFON when I was like 12 or 13. Some few years later, they said there was this new YSFON competition. We didn’t even know it was a World Cup, all they called it initially was YSFON competition. So YSFON called some players to camp but I was not in the initial shortlist.

“Every Saturday, we used to go to
the National Stadium to play kick-about football which we called ‘set’. I saw the team at the National Institute For Sports training and I recognised some of the players that had been in the YSFON team with me, and some of them had been in Samco Stars with me. So I asked around and I was told that they were preparing for the YSFON competition.

The next day I went to LIdi-oro in Mushin and bought a rubber under-sole which I used my thread and needle to sew it to my sneakers. I went back to the stadium, but it took me two weeks of going there everyday before I was allowed to play.

“Other boys that were in the same situation with me had stopped coming but I persisted. The day they gave me a chance to play for 15 minutes, that was it. I impressed the coaches so much that they asked me to move into the camp and I became an integral part of the team. I later became captain of the team and led them to victory in China.

So, that was how I gatecrashed the team and became a World Champion,” Ugbade concluded.

You can watch the full interview by clicking on video below:

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  • Prince 10 months ago


  • This story get as e be o! A player that had attended international competitions with YSFON did not have proper football boots? I think that was just “jara”

    • Dr. Drey. 10 months ago

      Na that one shock you…? I remember the SE playing one qualifier during the early nineties with shorts cut out of tracksuit juggers with scissors. Someone from the NFF “forgot” their kit in Lagos….infact our AFCON qualifier against Angola in Benin in 2003 saw our SE wear different shades of white jerseys for the match (some wore the Ghana/Nigeria 2000 design while some wore the Mali 2002 design). Similarly our 1997 golden eaglets were walked-over in their WCQ against Benin republic because NFF officials “forgot” their passports in Ota (abi na Lagos sef). Most of our youth teams and female teams (including the super falcons) have always been poorly catered for even till this day….people like Aisha Falode and Late Henrietta Ukaigwe can write a whole book on the terrible conditions most of these players have withstood just to put Nigeria on the football map. You need to visit our U17 national team camps especially before going to the WC and you will be seriously shocked…even in this age when we supposedly have a kit sponsor. So Ugbade not having proper boots as at then, sadly and unfortunately isnt news, neither is it strange. NFF and incompetence have always been like siamese twins.

    • you can’t get it cause you never experienced anything close to it and i guess of a later generation…

  • OYEDELE Josiah AYOTUNDE 10 months ago

    Dr. Drey. Sincerely, I will not lie. I need to be frank with you. So you can get it straight to your head as I simply put it into perspective that, you nailed it, spot on, it is you and TRUTH that are Siamese twins. #GodHaveMercyOnNigeria

  • Pompei 10 months ago

    The qualifier the good doctor is talking about is the 1991 match against Burkina Faso at the National Stadium. The players had their track suits cut at the knees, and looked really funny during the game! Yet, they produced one of the best performances many fans have ever seen, destroying Burkina Faso 7-1. That was the game that Finidi used to “introduce” himself to Nigerian soccer fans, galloping down the right flank and whipping in crosses to the delight of the fans. Yekini went “goals crazy” in that game, according to pundit Fabio Lanipekun, grabbing 4 goals. At a point, the fans started shouting “e don do, e don do”, begging the Eagles to please stop scoring against Burkina Faso. Fans changed their name to Burkina Suffer, lol!
    Interesting how our athletes rise above being poorly equipped, to post impressive performances. We’ve seen this many times in football, track and field, and so many other sports. Can you imagine how well these athletes will do if they are properly equipped?

    • Pompei 10 months ago

      This is the only time Lagos fans, or fans anywhere in Nigeria, have ever begged a Nigerian national team to please stop scoring against an opponent in an official match. It has never happened before, and I doubt that it will ever happen again.
      I still remember the chanting of fans at the National Stadium –
      Lagos fans usually show no mercy, and keep asking for goals by singing ALL WE ARE SAYING, GIVE US MORE GOALS.
      But that day in 1991 was an exception. Lagos fans were satisfied with goals, and begged the Eagles to please stop scoring!

      • Dr. Drey 10 months ago

        Hahahaha @ Pompei thank you for bringing back those funny memories. Burkina indeed suffered in the hands of Nigeria in the 90s. I think we also hammered them by 7 goals in Lagos on our way to france 98 WC. Those where days when having Europe based professionals was our competitive advantage over most African teams. Nowadays almost every country has players playing in Europe so the ground is a bit level now. We can further raise the bar and return to those days of clear comparative advantage if we can concentrate a larger cache of our players in the top leagues and top clubs. The fear factor we held then will definitely return…..(where teams already peed in their pants before stepping on the pitch – I can remember the B/faso keeper then Zongo abi na zango shivering so much he couldn’t control a back pass and the ball slipping under his legs for a goal in our favour)

        • Pompei 10 months ago

          Lol, I remember that howler! Tension hooked the poor guy so badly, he ended up laying a huge egg on the pitch! One of the worst own goals I’ve ever seen.
          That fear factor is gradually coming back. With Rohr at the helm of our football, we are on our way!

  • The same fear atitude wen it was time to meet cote de oire in 2013 nations cup wen tickets has already been booked for the next available flight. Because the opponent has his player player in the best league in Europe. Fear of ur oga is the beginin of wisdom.