FEATURE ARTICLE

Monday, September 5, 2022
Nwokeji.cyril@gmail.com
Belgium
CELEBRATING SEGUN "MATHEMATICAL" ODEGBAMI AT 70!

Segun "Mathematical" Odegbami

" Hard work is no guarantee for success, but it's usually the absolute minimum needed for success" Cyril C. Nwokeji

" The destiny of one's life is entirely of God's." Cyril C. Nwokeji

"God gives success, we can only make an effort as humans." Cyril C. Nwokeji

fter a brief intermezzo/haitus, needed for rejuvenation, it feels good to be back on the saddle.

Segun "Mathematical" Odegbami, with benefit of hindsight, is one of those iconic soccer stars, whose exploits on the soccer field, stimulated my interest/ love for the round leather game.

That he is highly talented is not in doubt. That he did certain things with the ball which were considered uncanny, even up to the present time, is certainly not in doubt. That he was a charismatic soccer player, who also helped bring charisma to the round leather game is beyond debate. That he helped popularise soccer in Nigeria, nay Africa, is beyond dispute. That he will go down the annals of the Nigerian /African soccer history as one of the best/finest ever in the game, is already an accepted fact!

What was so special about Segun "Mathematical" Odegbami, that makes yours sincerely and indeed a great deal of soccer fans in Nigeria, have the above-mentioned opinion of his exploits and his place in Nigeria's / African soccer history?

Yours sincerely heard of Segun "Mathematical " Odegbami, as a young man of eleven years, growing up in Lagos. I heard about him specifically from my senior brothers who were in awe of his skills on the soccer pitch. Particularly, his extraordinary speed and pace as a winger, intrigued them!

Yes, Segun "Mathematical " Odegbami, was a dare-devil winger/striker in his hey days. He brought a lot of 'innovative' dynamism, into wing play, that revolutionised wing play from the hitherto conventional mode. For example, his pull-outs or lobbed balls from the wings, were made with the needed "precision" that targeted the specific player/players, it was intended. There was the 'legendary' case of Segun Odegbami, in an offensive mode in one of the Super Eagles' matches ( then known as the "Green Eagles"), when he needed to pull-out the ball into the opponents' eighteen yard box; there was a 'problem' : lo and behold was in the opponents' vital area and the only team mate most priviledged to score : Aloy Atuegbu, who was with due respects, the shortest player in the team! A then "conventional" winger would just lob the ball to him not considering the height disadvantge; or, rather, would not have been creative enough to consider the height disadvantage and made provisions for it. But, Segun Odegbami, was a winger, even then , in another class: he sent a precisely/tailored lobbed pass, specifically to the fore head of Aloy Atuegbu, with which he made hay!

That rare piece of highly intelligent/ dynamic wing play, earned him from the legendary soccer commentator : Earnest Okonkwo, of very blessed memory, the nick name of : "Mathematical" !!!!!

Although his back ground as a Mechanical Engineer, may have also influenced the choice of "Mathematical" as his nickname.

Yes, Segun Odegbami had another shade to his life: He is a Mechanical Engineering graduate of the then "Ibadan Polythechnic". He was one of the very few well- educated soccer players of his time. That aspect of his life certainly helped him manage the fame and the concomittant consequences thereof, that followed his attainment of the status of a soccer star ! That has certainly helped him become who he is today : A very successful man, who still rides the waves of success!

Needless saying he was one of the live-wires of the Super Eagles, when he was an active soccer player! It was well- known in African soccer circles, that one of the ways to contain the Super Eagles in a match, was to tightly mark-out Segun Odegbami!

Segun Odegbami, was also a prolific striker and goal-getter! And was at a time, the highest goal-scoring Super Eagle!

One of his legendary goals, was at the 1978 World cup qualifier match-up against Egypt, in Lagos, on October, 8, 1977. Nigeria won the match : 4-0! The highlight of the victory was the third goal scored by Segun Odegbami. He scored that goal from the left corner flank of the Egyptians- from an "impossible" angle, after out-witting two Egyptian defenders! The goal according to the then NTA's soccer commentator: Dele Adetiba, is for the archives! And it is indeed! In my considered opinion, it is one of the best goals ever scored by a Super Eagles' player for Nigeria!!!!!

At the 1980 Nations' cup competition , in Nigeria, he was the star of the Super Eagles! Paticularly, his exploits in the final match-up against Algeria, is legendary! (Details of the 1980 Nations' cup competition and Segun Odegbami's exploits with the Super Eagles, are chronicled in my book titled : " Super Eagles of Nigeria: Pride of Africa", which reference is given at the end of this piece).

For his then clubside, the then " IICC Shooting stars of Ibadan", he was also the team's most important player! In the match-up with their then traditional rivals : "Rangers International football club of Enugu", in the semi-finals of the 1977 " African cup winners' cup competition", marking out Segun Odegbami, in both matches was top/ absolute priority! And the player who had that extra-ordinary responsibility, was a then rookie left-back : Nnamdi Anyafo, alias "Waskie"!

Nnamdi Anyafo's dexterity at carrying out the instruction of marking-out Segun Odegbami in both matches, earned him a call-up to the Super Eagles, and, conseqently, a place in the Super Eagles' team to the 1978 Nations' cup competition in Ghana. He also got his first cap in the competition against Burkina-Faso, then known as "Upper- Volta". Details are chronicled in my book : "Super Eagles of Nigeria : Pride of Africa"!

In conclusion, as earler stated, Segun Odegbami's place in Nigeria's nay African soccer history, is assured! Unfortunately, Segun Odegbami, never got the opportunity to play profesional soccer. From a personal point of view, because of Nigeria's then level of soccer development.

Any how, Segun "Mathematical" Odegbami, is a Nigerian/African soccer legend! Here is wishing him a very happy and fruitful seventieeth birthday and many more years of a healthy, fruitful and happy life on earth! Amen !!!!!

Cyril C. Nwokeji is the author of the books: "Super Eagles of Nigeria: Pride of Africa", presently on sale on www. Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/dp/1976765951/ref=sr_1_7 and "Super Eagles of Nigeria in the New Era", also presently on sale on www. Amazon.com

https://www.amazon.com/Super-Eagles-Nigeria-New-Era/dp/B09P7MGP4P/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1641064306&sr=8-1

Also at the link below, one can come into contact with a number of items, needed to support the Super Eagles at "CAMEROUN 2021" !!!!!

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

The books "Super Eagles of Nigeria : Pride of Africa", and " Super Eagles of Nigeria in the New Era", 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.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1976765951/ref=sr_1_7

and "Super Eagles of Nigeria in the New Era", also presently on sale on www. Amazon.com

https://www.amazon.com/Super-Eagles-Nigeria-New-Era/dp/B09P7MGP4P/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1641064306&sr=8-1

Also at the link below, one can come into contact with a number of items, needed to support the Super Eagles at "Cameroun 2021" !!!!!

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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