The death on Monday in Ibadan of Taiwo Joseph Ogunjobi terminated a cycle in football. Ogunjobi was a footballer, coach and administrator of the game he loved. The game reciprocates as well. Football loves him.
From Collegiate level where he represented and captained Nigeria Academicals to international career, Ogunjobi shone through the game with laurels hanging on his neck on the podium of success.
The story between Ogunjobi and his beloved Shooting Stars where he made his name, began in 1973, when he joined the team, then known as WNDC. Two years later, he left for the United States in search of the Golden Fleece as a student of Textile Engineering at the Clemson University South Carolina.
Four years after, Ogunjobi returned to Nigeria after his studies and was named the captain of the Shooting Stars for the 1980/81 soccer season. With the team starring notables like Segun Odegbami, the late Muda Lawal, Best Ogedegbe, the captain’s band was perhaps a compensation for Ogunjobi’s loyalty for shunning big money offers to return to his team after graduation from the university. He eventually called it quits with active football in 1986.
He elevated his contribution to the team when as a Deputy Director Oyo state Ministry of Information, he was seconded to the club and as it’s General Manager, the team won the maiden CAF Cup in 1992.
The military administration of the old Oyo State appointed Ogunjobi as the sole administrator of the Shooting Stars in 1994 and in the course of his duty, had to coach the team when the pair of Phillip Boamah and Felix Owolabi were eased out of the technical bench. He later employed Godfrey Esu as head of the coaching crew. Under Ogunjobi, the Shooting Stars won the 1995 National League and the FA Cup, earning the right to represent Nigeria in the 1996 edition of the Champions Cup. The team got to the final of the competition but lost via penalty shootout to Zamalek of Egypt.
He ventured outside his comfort zone and, on the invitation of football magnate, Gabriel Chukwuma, led Gabros FC in 1999/2000 as Chairman of the Nnewi side raising several internationals like Obinna Nwaneri and Austin Ejide through the club.
He also made his mark with Julius Berger FC of Lagos when as General Manager in 2000/2000, he led the team to continental outings.
At the international level, Ogunjobi was directly mentored by the late Patrick Okpomo and was taught that the rising profile of Nigerian football must be matched by robust administrative skills, inter-regional collaboration and cordial relationship with all stakeholders in football. Ogunjobi made friends with football stalwarts like Mustapha Fahmy (Egypt), Slim Aloulou, (Morocco), Moucharaf Anjorin, (Benin Republic) and Simplice Zouzou, (the Ivory Coast) to ensure Nigeria get justice and fairplay in continental engagements.
So on being appointed as secretary-general of then Nigeria Football Association (NFF) between 2002 and 2005, Ogunjobi flowed slowly in boardroom politics of African football.
”With Ogunjobi, we were assured of fair officiating, we were only concerned with how to win the game,” recalled Nigerian international, Yinka Adedeji.
He also served on the NFF Executive Committee between 2006 and 2010.
Ogunjobi made several attempts at the chair of the NFF but was unsuccessful yet no occupant of the Glass House ignored his immense experience and connections. He settled for the positions of the Chairman of the NFF’s Technical Committee from 2006 to 2010 and the chairman of the Osun state Football Association from 2006 the position he held until his death.
Ogunjobi also served as CAF and FIFA Match Commissioner, Chairman, Abuja subseat for FIFA U-17 World Cup as several African clubs like Asec Mimmosa, Wydad Casamblanca, and TP Mazembe of Congo sought his services as consultant in moment of critical importance of their career.