My first football Icon growing up was “Mathematical” Segun Odegbami whom I fondly called Uncle Segs. My introduction to football was in the ancient city of Ibadan and the first team I watched was IICC Shooting Stars hence you will understand my decision.
It was the erudite and probably one of the best Sports Journalist and Broadcaster par excellence Ernest Okonkwo that christened Segun Odegbami as “Mathematical” and it stuck. The inspiration probably would have come from Uncle Segs background – he attended and graduated from The Polytechnic, Ibadan where he studied Engineering and if I must add, a rare feat back then.
His dazzling display on the wings, the cut back and interplay was a joy to behold. He won three league titles and two the FA Cups with IICC but the crowning glory was winning the African Cup of Nations in 1980 at the National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos.
The late Ernest Okonkwo of blessed memory typically introduced him this way, “On right wing wearing jersey #7 is Patrick Olúṣẹ́gun Ọdẹ́gbàmí! “Mathematical” of I.I.C.C. Shooting Stars International of Ìbàdàn. Can he deliver for the Green Eagles today?”
Even though “Mathematical” generation never made to the World Cup his sojourn into sports journalism and administration in my view contributed a great measure in Nigeria qualifying for our first ever World Cup at USA 1994.
His TV program on NTA back then brought insightful footages of Super Eagles training from the High Performance Centre in Papendal camp, which is in forests of the Veluwe, on the outskirts of the city of Arnhem, Holland. It was a joy to behold – interviews with Clemens Westerhof, the one on one exclusive interviews with the players and behind the scenes videos – you simply felt you were in camp with the Super Eagles.
Nigeria’s first Gold medal at the Olympics won by Chioma Ajunwa may not have happened at the time if not for the intervention of Uncle Segs. His place in the in Nigeria sports history is surely written in Gold. People of his experience and expertise are considered national treasure in other climes and their wealth of experience are shared with all. It is a day of celebration; hence, I have chosen to celebrate this National Icon and not go down the road the state of our sports administration.
Happy Birthday Sir, may you age gracefully in sound health and all round prosperity. Thank you for the beautiful memories “Mathematical” and have a great day with friends and family.
Bimboh Adekoya is a widely travelled football person. He lives in Lagos, Nigeria. Twitter @Bimboh5