BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
Tesilimi Balogun in whose honour the Teslim Balogun in Lagos is named featured prominently in many Nigerian cup finals called the Challenge Cup in the 1950s.
He became a legend in Nigerian football. But the only national competition he featured in was the Challenge Cup. Unlike most attackers in the 1940s, Balogun had a great talent in scoring in almost every match.
He was clever and foxily cunning. Very stylish on the ball, his skills belied his lanky frame.
With excellent body feinting, good footwork, and ball control, he was a very alluring spectacle to behold. Of course, he often got ravishing applause of the appreciative crowd as he tormented his opponents and scoring goals.
But it was not a national final match that shot him into limelight. It was the LDAFA final of 29 September 1949 when his then team, Marine, beat Railway 3-1.
He earned his nickname ‘Thunder’ in that match. A Daily Times report of 1953 remarked that the nickname came in description of the speed with which Balogun scored the two last goals against Railway.
He later joined the Railway, the second of the seven clubs with which he played the Challenge Cup finals.
It was common for soccer historians to recall the potent attacking line of the club put together by Mr. U.G. Urion.
Commonly called “the Great Urion Line” which Balogun spearheaded. It comprised Godwin Anosike at Outside Right, Friday Okoh (Inside Right) Peter Anieke (Inside Left) and Titus Okere at Outside Left.
Balogun was the Centre Forward. The 1952 Challenge Cup was often called ‘Balogun final.’ Playing for the Lagos Pan Bank, he spearheaded the attack, which beat Warri 6- 1.