President of the Nigeria Football Federation and FIFA Council Member, Mr Amaju Melvin Pinnick has promised to help with the sustenance of the Teslim ‘Thunder’ Balogun Foundation, and be involved in all its activities in the years to come.
The NFF boss made this pledge in his welcome address as chief host at the 50th year remembrance ceremony of the late Teslim ‘Thunder’ Balogun, held at the Sheraton Hotel, Lagos.
Balogun, who achieved tremendous fame as the first Nigerian football player to ply his trade outside the shores of this country, and also shone brightly for the Senior National Team, died on 26th July 1972.
Pinnick praised the family of the departed hero for its uncommon commitment for marking the anniversary of his exit in the last 50 years.
“Right from my secondary school days at Hussey College, Warri, Delta State, the name Teslim ‘Thunder’ Balogun was a household name among young footballers across the country. Anybody among us who had the hottest shot during games was nicknamed Thunder Balogun. We also heard the fable of how Thunder Balogun’s shot tore a goalkeeper’s stomach while trying to stop his hot shot during a football game. All in all, we grew up hearing the story of Thunder Balogun as the greatest Nigerian football player.
“I am happy to be a part of this event and to be talking about the life and times of a man seen as the greatest Nigerian football player ever.
”I attended Hussey College, Warri, which is acclaimed to be the biggest school that trained national players for Nigeria. But I was not good enough to make it as a footballer because of the high standard in my school. Nevertheless, I told myself that I would strive to become one of the top football administrators in Nigeria. Today, I am not just the President of the Nigeria Football Federation; I am an Executive Committee Member of CAF and Member of the FIFA Council.”
Pinnick dismissed conceptions in some quarters Nigeria Football is going through a poor patch.
“Nigeria Football is making progress by all standards. All our junior national teams, men and women – the Eaglets, Flying Eagles, Flamingos and Falconets – have qualified for their FIFA World Cup finals. The Senior Women Team, Super Falcons, also just picked the ticket to play in the Women’s World Cup finals.
The Golden Eaglets and Flying Eagles all won WAFU Cup titles recently. These are noticeable feats that amount to some progress. The only one we fell short was the World Cup qualification. This happens in football. It is impossible to win every match.”
Also in attendance at the Teslim ‘Thunder’ Balogun 50th year memorial event were the First Vice President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Barrister Seyi Akinwunmi; President of the Nigeria Football and Other Sports Supporters Club, Dr Rafiu Oladipo and; family members of the late Teslim Balogun and members of the Anniversary Committee.