Kingsley Obiekwu, an ex-Super Eagles defender, has been resurrected. - OLAMORE
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Kingsley Obiekwu, an ex-Super Eagles defender, has been resurrected.



Although my colleague and friend, the prolific writer, award winning Abubakar Adam Ibrahim had almost finished the job, there is always something to add. When the news broke that help had come the way of a former Super Eagles defender, Kingsley Obiekwu, after his pathetic condition was made public by a Facebook user, Nigerians, especially football lovers feasted on it.

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Our own Abu ‘whispered’ loudly as he once again exhibited his versatility as a writer by dissecting with proficiency the lives of athletes in their active days and in retirement. Most importantly, he selflessly advised that those actively engaged in sports should learn to save for rainy days. As usual, he was thoroughly methodical in his delivery.

As a matter of fact, it was so tempting to write on the story of the catastrophic fall of the former poster girl of Nigerian athletics, Blessing Okagbare but the urge to write on the ‘resurrection’ of Obiekwu was indeed irresistible.

On August 3, 1996, Nigeria’s Dream Team I shocked the whole world by winning the Atlanta Olympics gold medal in men’s football event. It was the first time for an African country to achieve such a feat. In that victorious squad was a young man, Kingsley ‘Shagari’ Obiekwu.

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Although he was a fringe defender in the star-studded squad that comprised of the likes of Kanu Nwankwo, Jay-Jay Okocha, Garba Lawal, Daniel Amokachie, Tijanni Babangida, Uche Okechukwu, Taribo West, Sunday Oliseh, Mobi Oparaku, Emmanuel Amuneke, Dosu Joseph, Celestine Babayaro, Victor Ikpeba etc, he also contributed to the memorable victory in Atlanta.

He was the man who carried his ‘Oriental brother’ Kanu Nwankwo high on his shoulders soon as the referee sounded his whistle to signal the end of proceedings against the almighty Argentina. At the risk of undermining his contributions, it must be acknowledged that as a heavily built player, he was always seen lifting up his team mates whenever victory was attained.

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Expectedly, the victory at Atlanta ’96 brought the players so much fame as well as change in fortunes as some of them went on to sign even more lucrative contracts. For instance, the captain of the victorious team, Kanu Nwankwo, was snapped up by Italian giants, Inter Milan.

It is on record that Obiekwu himself had a fairly successful career as apart from his days in Enugu Rangers and Udoji United in Nigeria, he had brief stints at Go Ahead Eagles in Holland, Al Ahli in Dubai and Al Masry in Egypt. However, at 30 years, his career was cut short by a heart related problem and a nagging knee injury.

That was how Obiekwu the giant went into oblivion. Since nothing was heard of ‘Shagari’ again, many must have concluded that he had gone the way of his team mates who had since gone to join their ancestors.

However, Nigerians and indeed the world recently woke up to the news that the member of Atlanta Olympics winning squad was driving a commercial vehicle somewhere in Enugu. Those who like to exaggerate and over dramatise events even said he was working for someone else.

For those who feel anyone who has risen to the lofty height that Obiekwu had attained shouldn’t drop below a certain standard, working as a commercial driver was shocking and demeaning. But those who wished it were not true must have been disappointed when the man himself came out boldly to say he was living in abject poverty and needed help.

And by the special grace of God, help instantly came his way as the ever-generous Super Eagles captain, Ahmed Musa, became the first to send N2m to his senior colleague. He also hinted that the rest of the Super Eagles would do something.

So, even if he was ‘dead’, Obiekwu is now back to life for he can tackle some pressing needs like payment of his children’s school fees which he had given as one of the major reasons he was forced into commercial driving.


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Hoping that he will continue to smile to the bank, there are lessons to be learnt in the ‘resurrection’ Obiekwu. As we all know already, no condition is permanent. The only thing that is permanent in life is change. Therefore, those who expressed disappointment over Obiekwu’s business should remember there is dignity in any honest labour. If tomorrow, Alhaji Aliko Dangote becomes a commercial driver, will he be considered a failure?

Never die in silence is another lesson to be learnt in the story of Mr. Obiekwu. He said his action had embarrassed some family members, particularly his wife who had chosen to suffer in silence. However, since he wore the shoes and knew exactly where it was pinching him, he cried out and help instantly came his way.

Again, he did something that earned him my admiration. He never blamed his ordeals or financial predicament on anyone. When asked why his former team mates like Nwankwo and Okocha didn’t come to his aide, he responded by saying “Everyone has a problem or two he is attending to, so that’s why I did not want to bother anyone. The only person close to me is Nwankwo Kanu and he visits and assists me whenever he is in Enugu.”

And more importantly, Obiekwu has called on club owners and their managers to learn to pay players and coaches salaries as and when due. He said his condition was made worse by the clubs that he had coached. According him, he was owed a cumulative salary of N6m. Surely, even in the present-day Nigeria, if paid and managed diligently, such amount would have lifted him out of penury.

In summary, Obiekwu has taught all of us that no matter the circumstances, we must refuse to give up. After all, a living dog is said to be more dangerous than a dead lion.

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