Adegboye Onigbinde, former Technical Director of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), on Thursday, extolled the virtues of the late Nigerian soccer legend, Teslimi ‘Thunder’ Balogun.
Onigbinde, a two-time chief coach of the Super Eagles, spoke at the 49th memorial of the soccer legend, organised by the family in Lagos.
Teslimi Olawale Ayinde Balogun died in his sleep on July 30, 1972 at the age of 45 years, leaving behind eight children.
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, Teslim Thunder Balogun’s heroics in Nigerian football, could easily be equated to the greatness ascribed to the great Bobby Moore in English football.
“The greatest goal scored ever by any soccer player I have seen played was scored by ‘Thunder’ Balogun at the Olubadan Stadium in 1968 in the match between the Nigerian national soccer team and England.
“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 wrecking 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 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,” the former coach said.
Onigbinde said that after the unforgettable goal which still remained indellible 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.
Onigbinde, a former Chairman of IICC Shooting Stars now known as Shooting Stars of Ibadan FC (3SC), said Balogun played for Apapa Bombers, Marine, Railway, Plateau, Pan Bank and Dynamo all between 1944 and 1961.
Balogun 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 three goals in 1956, 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.
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 come July 2022.