Cyril C. NwokejiWednesday, March 23, 2016



John Ene Okon


ohn Okon Ene, was a highly talented mid-fielder, who plied his trade with the Calabar Rovers and the BCC Lions of Gboko. However, my best memories of him, was when he played for Nigeria's under-20 side, the Flying Eagles, at the African qualifying series of the 1987 under-20 World cup competition and the 1987, under-20 World cup competition, in Chile.

John Okon Ene, was a highly influential member of the 1987 set of the flying Eagles. He was the anchor man in mid-field; a modern day box to box player, but a highly creative one for that matter! He was the heart and soul of the team! He was the heart beat of the team! The motor engine on which the team revolved! He smelt the game; felt the game, and gave his all to the beautiful game, he loved so much and sacrificed so much for!

Whenever he was in his elements, the team performed well and whenever, he had a less than glorious outing, the team's performance was also affected. He co-ordinated the affairs of the Flying Eagles mid-field, that also had in it's services: Thompson Oliha, of blessed memory, Ikponwosa Omoregie and Victor Igbinoba. The Flying Eagles team he played in, also had the services of players like: Skipper and Goalkeeper, Willie the "Cat" Okpara. Defenders: Ndiyo, Nduka Ugbade, Ladipupo Babalola, Nosa Osadolor and Titus Mbah. Attackers: Etim Esin, Lawrence Ukaegbu, Adeolu Adekola and Jonathan Akpoborie; and of course the other great players of the team, who due to limitations of the human memory, cannot be mentioned.

The team was tutored by: the late Coach Chris Udemezue, of blessed memory and ably assisted by Coach Tunde Disu.

The 1987 set of Flying Eagles, won the African under-20 competition; and qualified to represent Africa, at the 1987 under-20 World cup competition, in Chile. The team no doubt was highly talented, but relatively poor technical and tactical guidance, prevented the team from progressing beyond the preliminary stages of the world cup competition.

John Okon Ene, was so highly talented, that notwithstanding his dimunitive stature, held his own very well against bigger and more robust opponents. In the words of a Nigerian soccer commentator," what John Okon missed in stature, he made up, with his exquisite skills!"

He was called up to the Super Eagles, together with: Skipper Willie Okpara, Nduka Ugbade, Thompson Oliha, Etim Esin, Lawrence Ukaegbu and Adeolu Adekola.

John Okon Ene, was a member of the Super Eagles team, that won the bronze medal, at the 1992 African Nations' cup tournament, in Senegal.

Like all mortals, he has been snatched by the cold hands of death, though at a rather young age of 47 years. Yours sincerely, seizes this opportunity, to send his sincerest condolences to his family. May the soul of John Okon Ene, find rest, in God's eternal bossom. Amen!