|Monday, April 5, 2021|
"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years" Abraham Lincoln
he death of Coach Laloko, came to me as a surprise. Death is the destined ultimate end of a man's life, but nobody wants his dearly beloved one to (ever) die; more especially when that person hasn't in my considered opinion, gotten to a very ripe old age. However, in such matters, we have no choice but to submit to providence!
Yours sincerely will use this opportunity and space to remember him the way I knew him many years ago as a young secondary school student.
He was the coach of the highly successful ST. Gregory's college soccer team, in the late seventies (my alma mater). He was hired to do this job, by the then soccer-loving Principal of ST. Gregory's college, Obalende, Lagos: the late Mr. Anthony Omoera, of very blessed memory.
Mr. Omoera, wanted a winning ST. Gregory's college soccer team, and he made a good choice by hiring Coach Laloko.
Coach Laloko went about his job with dexterity. He gathered his players, organised and mobilised them into a winning team, within a relatively short period of time. They won the "Principal's cup competition", in Lagos state, under his watch in : 1978, 1979, 1981 and 1982.
He was a coach who knew his onions. He was always clad in his "all red outfit," which gave away his being a fan of "Liverpool FC" of England - The Anfield reds !
He was a strict apostle of free flowing soccer. He lashed out at the players, during training sessions, who held on to the ball unnecessarily too long. He wanted quick passes to be made by his players, and so made the players play as team and, consequently, had a greater chance of surprising their opponents.
As earlier stated, he never failed to tong lash his players who disobeyed this fundamental soccer principle he held so dear . His trade mark remark whenever players erred in this direction, was to shout on them and say : " Pass the ball early ! Pass the ball early !! Pass the ball early!!!" Which sounded like : " Pass the ball Aleeee! Pass the ball Aleeee!! Pass the ball Aleeee!!!", with his English language tinged with Yoruba accent ( No disrespects intended).
He will go down in the history of ST. Gregory's college as one of the best soccer coaches ever to have coached the college's soccer team.
At a bigger level, he was consultant to the Nigerian Football Federation. And contributed immensely to Nigeria's soccer development.
He was also a Television soccer analyst, who partook in the analyses of matches played by the Super Eagles of Nigeria. He was noted for his point blank analyses of soccer matches. For example, at the 1988 Nations' cup competition, in Morocco, during the opening match of Nigeria's group between , Nigeria and kenya, at half time, during the analysis of a phase of the Super Eagles' defensive organisation, he lashed out at the central defensive pair of Andrew Uwe alias "Uwe Seeeler" and Sunday Eboigbe, alias "Sunday New Benin", and criticised them for not having taking responsibility at a time the Kenyans nearly scored! Details of this match and its aftermath as well as the other matches of the Super Eagles, are chronicled in my book, which reference is given at the end of this piece.
He also plied his trade outside the borders of Nigeria. He was the technical adviser of the Gambian national soccer team.
In conclusion, his death heralds the end of another glorious chapter of Nigeria's soccer. More especially, with regards secondary school soccer. His contributions in this regard is most noteworthy, as he helped nurture some hitherto secondary school players, who later became big soccer stars.
Players like: Joachins Araonu( my soccer mentor), Idiabor, Adubari Otorobio, Windsor, Raphael Ikeke, Jimoh Momoh, Abiodun Baruwa, Richmond Gbontir, Celestine Owodo, Utuk, Otubanjo, Muyiwa Oshuntolu, Ndinwa, Wole Odegbami, Samuel Owoh and all the other beautiful and highly talented soccer players, who cannot be remembered due to the limitations of the human memory.
My sincerest condolences to his family. May his soul find rest in the Lord's bosom. Amen !!!
The book "Super Eagles of Nigeria : Pride of Africa", can also be gotten through the author. One can contact the author through : firstname.lastname@example.org Please note in this case, payment of postage costs will be necessary