By Tony Ubani
*Ogunjobi, Chukwu, Okpala mourn
ERSTWHILE Green Eagles goalkeeper, Best Ogedegbe succumbed to the cold hands of death Monday night after battling in vain to come out from coma after an eye surgery at the University College Hospital, Ibadan. Technical Committee Chairman of the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, and Ogedegbeâ€™s teammate at WNBC now known as Shooting Stars Sports Club, 3SC, Taiwo Ogunjobi could not hold himself when he confirmed the sad news on our hotline. â€œItâ€™s a sad news. I played with him in what is known as 3SC, Academicals and Western team.
He was so close to me and I stayed in his home when I came back from USA to do my service. A great hero is gone. But I am happy that his name will be there anytime the history of Nigerian football would be writtenâ€, Ogunjobi who sobbed on phone said. He however noted that the NFF was waiting for the family to know how the football house would support them. Ogedegbe shot himself into reckoning in 1980 when he displaced Nigeriaâ€™s number one goalkeeper, Emmanuel Okala to help the Eagles win the Nations Cup. His captain in 1980, Christian Chukwu lamented yesterday that he did not know that â€˜Bestâ€™ was ill only to hear that he was dead. â€œDeath is cruel. I did not even know that he was ill.
How could he die from eye operation? Just eye operation?â€, Chukwu asked almost doubting that Ogedegbe could not die like that. â€œI saw him last during the Challenge cup. He radiated confidence. That is his attribute even during our days in camp. He will tell you that he wonâ€™t concede goal and truly he wont. He was friend to all. One of the best goalkeepers that Nigeria ever had. For Ogedegbe to displace Emmanuel Okala as goalkeeper during the Nations Cup in 1980 will give you a little idea of how good he was. And he was humble. This news has disorganised me.
How I wish itâ€™s not trueâ€, Chukwu said. Sylvanus Okpala, also former teammate of late Ogedegbe described him as a â€˜skilfulâ€™ goalkeeper. â€œJust as we have outstanding players and call them skilful players, so do we have skilful goalkeepers. Best was the best skilful goalkeeper. He was also known for playing penalty kicks and I remember the one he scored against Tunisia. He is a goalkeeper who would never stop talking to his defenders. He was my senior in the Eagles but liked me with a passion. It is painful to hear he is deadâ€, Okpala known as Quicksilver said.