A former coach of the Super Eagles of Nigeria, Chief Adegboye Onigbinde, has insisted the late Teslim ‘Thunder’ Balogun remains Nigeria’s greatest footballer of all time the country has ever produced.
Onigbinde, a former FIFA and CAF instructor, spoke as the Balogun family remembers the late soccer legend, who died 48 years ago at age 45.
Balogun, who was nicknamed ‘Thunder’ because of power in his shots, was the first Nigerian to play professional football in England, signing for Peterborough in 1949 and also had stints with Queens Park Rangers where he played 13 times and scored three goals in 1956.
He was the first player to score a hat-trick in the old Challenge Cup final in the 6-1 thrashing of Warri XI (Pan Bank) in 1952 final.
Onigbinde said, “The greatest footballer Nigeria has ever produced was Teslim ‘Thunder’ Balogun,” adding that, “There is no doubt about it.
“As a footballer, he did many things players before his time, those of his time and after and even years to come did not do and have not been able to do with the ball.”
Onigbinde recalled the greatest goal he had ever witnessed was when Balogun scored a brilliant shot for Nigeria (UK Tourists) against England in 1968:
“The greatest goal scored by any player I have seen was scored by ‘Thunder’ Balogun at the Olu Ibadan Stadium in 1968 in the match between the UK Tourists and England.
“The English players were always on him each time he received the ball. To beat the pressure off, ‘Thunder’ stood outside the 18-yard box with his back turned at the England goalkeeper.
He added: “A ball was floated to him from the midfield and the English players were waiting for him to bring it down but against their expectations, he staggered and turned to fire the shot beyond the reach of the goalkeeper.”