FEATURE ARTICLE

Cyril C. NwokejiWednesday, August 6, 2014
cyril.nwokeji@wol.be
Belgium

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GODWIN EKE: ADIEU!

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recently learnt of the sudden death of former Super Eagles defence ace Godwin Eke, in the press, and was shocked at the unfortunate news.

My earliest and fondest memories of Godwin Eke date back to the early eighties, when he was a student of Trinity secondary school, Olodi, Apapa, Lagos. He was a very good school boy footballer who played in the first team of the school's soccer team; that participated in the yearly inter-secondary school soccer competition christened: "The Principal's Cup Competition." Though his school was not a force to be reckoned with in the "Principal's cup competition," Godwin Eke, notwithstanding, was a colossus in his school's team, marshalling his school team's defence, like a colossus; he was the star of the team ! The "Principal's cup," competition, was an elitist school boys' competition, that produced star players like: my friend and soccer mentor, Joachins Aronu Ogugua, alias "Gorimapa;" Stephen Keshi; Samson Sia Sia; Henry Nwosu; Wakilu Oyenuga; the late Adedeji Obe; Samuel Owoh; Nathaniel Ogedengbe; Emeka James; Livinus Nwaogu; Jones Nseyo; the late Muri Sanni; the late Felix Egogo, alias "Barber chair; "Itive Wilson; Tarila Okorowanta; Wole Odegbami, younger brother of the legendary soccer star: Segun Odegbami; Teibowei Diepriye; Richmond Gbontir; Muyiwa Omotajo; Adewale Toriola; Taiwo Affinih; Nicholas Ubido; Adubari Otorobio; Sunday Nwokocha, the younger brother of Nnamdi Nwokocha, alias "Camel; "John Ekpere, alias "Ga Joneh," Babajide Kwaku, alias "Mensah; "Abiodun Baruwa; Jimoh Momoh; Loveday Omoruyi; Nicholas Ndiwa; Ade, alias "speed boat; "the Olukanmi brothers: Segun and Femi; Azuka Harbour; Paul Okoku; Muyiwa Omotajo; Muyiwa "Ewu "Oshuntolu, son of the legendary sports journalist "Esbee; "and the other beautiful school boy soccer players /stars too numerous to mention.

Godwin Eke's sterling performances as a school boy footballer, caught the attention of the coaches of the Lagos based soccer club: "Standard bank," football club. He was promptly recruited by the club and soon established himself at the club, as one of their star players. He did so well at this club side, that he was selected by the national under-20 selectors, the then "Junior Eagles," now called the "Flying Eagles," to represent Nigeria, at the African zone qualifying series for the FIFA under-20 world cup held in the then "Union of Soviet Socialist Republics," the "USSR," in 1985. The Flying Eagles, with Godwin Eke as first choice right back, under coaching guidance of Coach Paul Hamilton and ably assisted by Coach Tunde Disu, qualified as one of two African representatives, to the FIFA under-20 world cup competition, in the then "Soviet Union." The Flying Eagles, also won the play-off series between the two African representatives to the under-20 world cup competition- the other representative was Tunisia; to become the undisputed African under-20 champions; a title they have won six times so far !

Godwin Eke told the press before the FIFA under-20 soccer competition, he was going to the USSR, to play him self to sell; as a way of protesting to his employers, the "Standard Bank," Football club of Lagos, for what he described as a lack of appreciation of his qualities as a footballer. Indeed he played himself to sell, at the under-20 competition, in the Soviet Union, with a five star display that caught the attention of all and sundary. He was one of the stars of the team that comprised: Goalkeepers: Aloy Agu and Christian Obi; defenders: Godwin Eke was at right back; Kingsley Onye alias "Mature "at left back; Skipper Andrew Uwe, at centre-half back and Mark Odu, at left half back. The three man mid-field consisted of: Waidi Akanni, as defensive mid-fielder; Augustine Igbinabaro, as right- sided offensive mid-fielder and Osaro Obobaifo, as left-sided offensive mid-fielder. The offensive front consisted of: Mike "Canon shots "Dominic, as right winger, ably assisted by Ndubuisi Okosieme; Mark Anunobi, as left winger, ably assisted by Friday Elaho alias "Professor; "and Monday Odiaka as centre-forward, ably assited by Samson Sia Sia. It must be mentioned that Friday Elaho, didn't make the 18-man squad to the under-20 world cup competition, in the Soviet Union. The flying Eagles, looked bright in their power-playing, offensive oriented 4-3-3 style of play; and Godwin Eke, was one of the stars of the team.

Godwin Eke, was not only charismatic in his physical attributes, he was also charismatic, in his playing style. He reminds me of Brazil's David Luiz ! In one of his beautiful overlapping runs against Canada, in one of the Flying Eagles ' group's matches, at USSR '85, his bullet-packed shot was parried by the Canadian goalkeeper onto the path of onrushing, opportunistic centre-forward: Monday Odiaka, who wasted no time in slotting in the second goal for Nigeria. Godwin Eke's charismatic playing style, was a beauty to watch, as he orchestred most of the beautiful moves of the Flying Eagles from the right wing, combining beautifully with Michael Dominic, at right wing, later on, on account of injury to Michael Dominic, with Ndubuisi Okosieme and later on, on account injury to Ndubuisi Okosieme, with Samson Sia Sia. He was an offensive-oriented, overlaping right back, who brought a lot of lustre, lush and polish to the right back position; he also didn't forget his defensive responsibilities. Godwin Eke, as early as thirty years ago, was the quintessence of the modern, right back ! The Flying Eagles, went on to win the bronze medal, at the FIFA under-20 championship, in 1985, in the USSR.

On getting back to Nigeria, Godwin Eke, was rewarded for his sterling performances, at the under-20 world cup, with a big contract at the then high spending and high flying "Iwuanyanwu National "Football club; thereby satisfying his ambition of a "big time "move to a bigger clubside. He quickly established himself as a dependable defender, at his new club side, marshalling the defence as centre-half back; an evidence of his polivalency as a defender! With "Iwuanyanwu National," they dominated the Nigerian soccer scene for some time and went as far as the finals of the "African champion's league," competition, in 1988; losing to "Entente Sportif," of Algeria.

He was rewarded with a call-up, to the Super Eagles, by his erstwhile coach and mentor in the Flying Eagles, Coach Paul Hamilton, when he was made coach of the Super Eagles. He played for the Super Eagles, in the African zone qualifying series for the 1990 world cup tournament, in Italy. He played for the Super Eagles, at left back; another evidence of his defensive polyvalency.

When yours sincerely left the shores of Nigeria, in the early nineties for Europe, one lost track of his further soccer development. I read in the press, he retired as an active soccer player in 1994; and became a coach with the Imo-state sports council. I had the opportunnity of meeting him on one or two occassions, and I got the impression of a very friendly and warm person. However like all mortals, he has answerd the call of nature and moved on; may his warm and gentle soul, rest in perfect peace, Amen!

My sincere condolences, to his family, particularly to his wife and children. Godwin Eke, Adieu!

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