FEATURE ARTICLE

Monday, February 15, 2021
Nwokeji.cyril@gmail.com
Belgium
THE PASSING OF YISA SHOFOLUWE "SHOW-FOR-LUWE", ALIAS THE "DEAN OF DEFENCE"!

Late Yisa Sofoluwe

he above adaptation of Yisa Shofoluwe's surname, expressed the excitement, thrills, entertainment and general satisfaction some of us got whenever we saw Yisa Shofoluwe in his hey days as a soccer player( defender), playing the game he was very much highly talented in! Yisa Shofoluwe, belonged to the exclusive class of defenders : full-backs, who re-adapted and re-defined the hitherto conservative role of full-backs in a defensive organisation. From the hitherto "stationary" or "static" full-backs in conservative defensive organisations of yore, Yisa Shofuluwe and his 'cohorts', re-adapted and redefined the role of full-backs in a soccer team to one of not only a defensive component in a team's defensive organisation, as is traditionally meant to be, but one that played a very vital role in a team's offensive impulses! Yisa Shofuluwe and his 'cohorts', helped re-define and re-adapt the full-back position in modern soccer, by their flowery overlapping runs with which they helped the team's offensive strategy and as well as carried out their traditional role of defending, with dexterity!

To this exclusive club of full-backs, belonged/ belongs : Kenny Samson, of Arsenal FC/ England fame; Viv Anderson of Nottingham Forest FC/ England fame; Mbom of the 1982 Camerounian World cup fame; Maicon of Brazil; Roberto Carlos of Brazil; Cafu of Brazil; Paul Breightner of Germany; Arthur Newman of Holland fame; and all the other beautiful full-backs past and present who cannot be remembered due to the short comings of the human memory!

Yours sincerely noticed Yisa Shofoluwe as a soccer player in 1983, after the 1983 Under-20 World cup competition. Yours sincerely couldn't watch the 1983 Under-20 World cup competition, because one was busy with sessional examinations as a freshman student of University of Ilorin, Nigeria.

After the 1983 Under- 20 World cup competition, on account of their sterling performances, Yisa Shofoluwe, Chibuzor Ehilegbu and Wilfred Agbonivbare, were invited to the Super Eagles of Nigeria.

The 1983 set of Under-20 team better known as the "Flying Eagles", was the first Nigerian team ever to qualify for a FIFA World cup competition!

The team boasted a number of highly talented players like: Wilfred Agbonivbare, Skipper Ali Jeje, Amaechi Otti, Tajudeen Disu, Wahab Adesina, Vice Skipper Paul Okoku, Tarila Okorowanta alias "Super Brat", The Olukanmi brothers: Femi and Segun , Chibuzor Ehilegbu, alias "Mbuzu", Bala Ali and Humphrey Edobor and of course all the other beautiful and highly talented players who due to limitations of the human memory cannot be remembered.

Yisa Shofoluwe's debut match for the Super Eagles of Nigeria against Ghana, in 1983, in Kaduna, in a 1984 Nations' cup qualifier, made him an instant hit for the Super Eagles of Nigeria! He was the "man -of -the match"! This was no mean achievement for a young player who made his debut at the highest level of soccer! Sometimes such players at such occasions are usually nervous and sometimes struggle to prove themselves. But Yisa Shofoluwe was different! He had self confidence in his ability as a player, and played confidently and well from the first match onwards for the Super Eagles.

A former Super Eagles' player, the late Uche Okafor of blessed memory, recounted how Yisa Shofoluwe, encouraged him to be calm, when he was full of nerves preparatory to his debut match for the Super Eagles of Nigeria! That was Yisa Shofoluwe for you, he had self confidence and had an inspiring effect on fellow players!

Before his debut match against Ghana, the then Super Eagles' coach : High Chief Festus Adegboye Onigbinde, when questioned by journalists about Yisa Shofoluwe's ability in training, apparently, gave the impression of somewhat questionable belief in his ability, by describing him as "casual" in his approach to the game, at training sessions. This initial opinion of Coach Onigbinde was understandable, considering Yisa Shofoluwe's approach to the game: very relaxed but effective!

After the match against Ghana, the doubts about his qualities as a player were erased and Yisa Shofoluwe became an instant star in Nigeria soccer! Details of his debut against Ghana, the raving press reviews that followed his performance and the other beautiful Super Eagles' stories are chronicled in my book : "Super Eagles of Nigeria: Pride of Africa", which reference is given at the end of this piece.

As earlier mentioned, Yisa Shofoluwe, was a defender who was unconventional in his approach to the game. Apart from his trade mark beautiful and flowery overlapping runs, he was a very neat tackler of the ball! He dispossessed attackers of the ball neatly without committing foul on them in the process! Needless saying he had one of the least numbers of "yellow cards" of any defender on earth! He was a highly talented, fine and neat soccer player, who played by the rules!

He was polyvalent and could play in any position in the defence! And wherever he played, he always shone like a million stars!

He played for the Super Eagles of Nigeria, at the 1984 and 1988 Nations' cup competitions; and each time with a Silver- winning performance!

At club level, he played for "ITT Waves", " Abiola Babes FC", in Nigeria. He played for " Asec Mimosas" of Ivory Coast and also in Belgium. He later on returned to Nigeria, where he rounded- up his career and later on became a coach.

In conclusion, without a doubt, Yisa Shofoluwe, won himself a place in the Nigerian soccer hall of fame, as one of the best and finest defenders ever!

May the good Lord accept his soul in his bosom! Amen !!!!!!!

Also at the link below, one can come into contact with a number of items, needed to support the Super Eagles at "EGYPT 2019" !!!!!

https://teespring.com/stores/super-eagles-of-nigeria

The book "Super Eagles of Nigeria : Pride of Africa", can also be gotten through the author. One can contact the author through : nwokeji.cyril@gmail.com Please note in this case, payment of postage costs will be necessary

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