The former Technical Director of the Nigeria Football Federation and two-time chief coach of the Super Eagles, Chief Adegboye Onigbinde, has extolled the virtues of the late Nigerian soccer legend, Teslim ‘Thunder’ Balogun, as the family marks his 49th memorial today, July 30 in Lagos.
The former FIFA and CAF Instructor, who won a silver medal for Nigeria at the 1984 African Nations Cup and the first Nigerian coach to take the Super Eagles to the FIFA World Cup at Korea/Japan 2002, stated that, Thunder Balogun’s heroics in Nigerian football, could easily be equated to the greatness ascribed to the great Bobby Moore in English football.
He said: “The greatest goal scored ever by any soccer player I have seen played was scored by ‘Thunder’ Balogun at the Olu Ibadan Stadium in 1968 in the match between the Nigerian national soccer team, the UK Tourists and England.”
Onigbinde stressed that: “During that match in 1968, the English players knowing his trickery clustered on him each time he got possession of the ball, to prevent him from wreaking havoc on their team.
“After frustrating him for most part of the game, “Thunder” planned his strategy to give the English national soccer team players the biggest shock of their lives. When he received a floating pass from a Nigerian team mate just at outside the English penalty box, while still backing the goal post, only for him to flick the ball with a sensational drive with power behind the ball. The well directed ball went to the side the keeper had thought the ball will go to, beating the English keeper hands down for a goal I will never forget in my life.”
Onigbinde noted: “After that unforgettable goal which still remained indelible in my mind, “Thunder” had other legendary performances for both the national team and clubs which no Nigerian, dead or alive has been able to replicate such excellent soccer artistry.
The former Chairman of IICC Shooting Stars said Balogun played for Apapa Bombers, Marine, Railway, Plateau, Pan Bank and Dynamo all between 1944 and 1961. He won the FA Cup five times in seven final appearances and was the first player to score a hat-trick in the Nigerian FA Cup final when he put three goals past Warri XI as Pan Bank won the 1952 final 6-1.
“Thunder” also had professional stints with Holbeach and Queens Park Rangers of England where he played 13 times and scored 3 goals in 1956. After emerging the first Nigerian to play professional Football anywhere in the world.”
His playing career lasted from 1945 to 1962 and he was in the coaching crew for Nigeria to the 1968 Olympic Games where the country drew 3-3 against Brazil.
When Balogun died in his sleep on July 30, 1972 at the relatively young age of 45 years old, nobody knew his heroics would never be replicated or surpassed by any Nigerian 49 years after his death. ”
The family of the late Teslim ‘Thunder’ Balogun has announced that, in conjunction with a Technical Committee there would be a one-week programme to Mark the 50th memorial anniversary of the father next year July.