Tributes are pouring in on late Solomon Ogbeide the Lobi Stars coach. Super Eagles goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa and Lobi Stars hotshot Sikiru Alimi are two of five Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) players who shared their memories of the popular coach with www.aclsports.com
Ogbeide passed on to glory on Monday morning at the age of 62 and Nigerian football stakeholders have continued to express their shock while paying glowing tribute to the well respected coach who many regard as a “father figure”.
Until his death, Ogbeide was the oldest head coach in Nigeria’s top flight and has worked with top league sides including his state club Bendel Insurance, defunct Nigerdock, defunct Sharks FC, Warri Wolves, Sunshine Stars and his club when death came calling, reigning Super Cup champions Lobi Stars.
www.aclsports.com spoke with some of the players that have passed through ‘Epa‘ as Ogbeide was fondly called.
The 30-year old goalkeeper played under Ogbeide when he was at Sunshine Stars of Akure. The AFCON-bound goalkeeper spoke some touching words.
“I’m short of words honestly. Epa was a father to me and one thing I can’t forget is his words of advice to me,” said Ezenwa to www.aclsports.com
“He advised me that I should remain focused on the job that “put food on your table”. And also to live a good life that will not affect me after football.
“He also taught me how to manage success and never allow it enter my head. For all these, he will be remembered for as long as I live on this earth. Himself and late Kelechi Emeteole are coaches that are also fathers to their players,” said Ezenwa who is currently on the books of Katsina United.
Ogbeide led Lobi Stars to the group stage of the CAF Champions League this season, making them the first Nigerian side to get to that stage in three seasons. One of the key contributors to his side is striker Sikiru Alimi who has scored nine goals this term.
Alimi was at his literary best while writing a tribute on Ogbeide for www.aclsports.com
“Late Coach Solomon Ogbeide was a father figure with a great personality,” began Alimi.
“He is a hard worker and a slave driver like he calls himself. He demands 100% and beyond from his players always and above that, he is very caring and wants the best for his players.
Alimi continued: “He always reminds me of how good I am and never to drop my guards. Though it’s the first time we worked together, I won’t forget how he impacted in me and made me better.
“I will always remember his quotes and adages as well, for example “teeth wey go comot go comot even if nah garri you dey drink.” Rest on Epa.”
One player that certainly will not forget Ogbeide in a hurry is Rangers International winger Itoya who was brought into limelight by the late tactician.
Itoya who is famous for scoring a spectacular goal for Rangers in their AITEO Cup final comeback against Pillars last year spoke to www.aclsports.com on what Epa represents to him.
“Coach Solomon Ogbeide is my father in Nigerian football.
“He virtually picked me from the streets and signed me into Warri Wolves in 2012. He is a man of truth and a man of integrity.
“He will be remembered for signing non-league and young players anywhere he worked,” said Itoya.
Plateau United centre back, Ogene was also a former student of Ogbeide and he corroborated some of the words spoken by his playing colleagues.
“He is just like a father to me. He took me as his own son and encouraged me a lot.
“He’s a coach everybody would like to play under. He is a good coach, tactically sound, carries everyone along with his methods and quite very jovial.
“He is always playing with his players and he was a man who doesn’t joke with prayers. He makes sure he organised the devotions in his room. He was a great man,” said Ogene who played under Ogbeide during his last stint at Sunshine Stars.
One of Ogbeide’s trusted soldiers who narrated to www.aclsports.com how Epa’s death was kept away from the players before their game on Monday. Kelly Kester summarises what the rest have said.
“Away from football he also advises about life generally, he’s a father figure to everyone. He pushes us to always give our best, and he is the funniest coach I have met.”
May His Soul Rest in Peace