Best Ogedegbe: Tribute To An unsung Hero By Ayo Ademokoya
Did you remember the final match of the Siasia led under 23 at the 2008 Beijing Olympics? Did you remember that the lone goal scored by Angel Di Maria for Argentina against Vansekin Goalkeeper of the dream team was a needless error which could have been corrected if there was a goalkeeper trainer attached to the team as similar errors were made by the goalkeeper in the semifinals of the football tournament against the United States of America at the Beijing Olympics? Though we won by 3-2 (I think I’m right) but there was no goalkeeper to correct Vansekin simply because Samson Siasia did not deem it fit to go to the Olympics with a goalkeeper trainer!!! (According to the rules 3assistance were to accompany the coach making maximum of 4technical crew. So Siasia decided to go to the Olympics with his ‘white friend/coach ‘without the NFF sensing danger ahead going to a major tournament without a goalkeeper trainer!!!!!!)
Who was the goalkeeper trainer that was dropped at the last minute?.. Best Ogedegbe was it.. But he never went to the press to complain. He simply packed his bag and luggage and left for ibadan. Such is the virtue of the Late Nigerian goalkeeper, Best Ogedegbe (MON). He was a peace loving human being when he was alive and such virtues he exhibited throughout is lifetime. He never for once complain to the press about the ills meted to him by his employers at any given time. He was contented with whatever life brings.
Best Ogedegbe was part of the consortium of coaches put together by Chief Onigbinde to steer the ship of Shooting stars back to reckoning in 2004 yet for once you never heard anything controversial about him. When the board dissolved the consortium of coaches, Best simply moved to Wikki Tourists and from Wikki he teamed up with Stanley Eguma in 2007/2008 and never for once you heard anything from Stanley that Best Ogedegbe ever argued with him despite the fact that he had seen it all. Best Ogedegbe was a senior colleague to Samson Siasia. He won the African Cup of Nations before him and played the game to the highest level.. Yet he never for once querried the decision of his boss for dropping him among the coaches who toiled day and night for the Dream team to qualify for the Olympics. I became close to him sometimes in 2005, he lives few meters away from my Jericho home and one of his daughters was a friend to my neighbors and she comes around very often.
Best would joined me sometimes at Jericho Junction leading to idi ishin where he lived before driving his Benz 200 to wherever he was going.
I invited him to my radio program on Premier FM on fate Wednesday and Best was a journalist delight. Though he stammers slightly, no one can take it away from him that he was brilliant. It was after the show he told me he had an injury while playing for Nigeria at Libya 82 qualifying match where he had an head on collision with an on rushing striker. (I can’t remember if he told me he hit his head against the goalposts while trying to save a shot) which ever way the injury that later killed him was curbed while playing for Nigeria. Bestila told me that since then he had nagging migraine. He never knew a tumor had grown in that area and this has affected his eyesight. he saved enough money to treat himself.. drove himself to the United College Hospital, Ibadan, got operated upon, went into coma and never woke up..!!! He died at the unripe age of 55 years..
The Labour of our heroes past Shall never be in vain is what we sing.. But no one, I mean not a corporate or governmental body had deemed it fit to celebrate our heroes.. So many of them died unsung. Best was a loving husband, he will come around everyday to pick his wife Folasade, it was a routine he never missed for once any time his around.. At least I worked for Broadcasting corporation of oyo State for almost 3 years so I’m sure of what I’m saying.. Of course his wife tried to organize a memórial for him a year or two after his demise at D Rovans hotel, I was there, Segun Odegbami was there, Chief Onigbinde and Taiwo Ogunjobi etc were there but what was supposed to be an annual event could not continue, I’m sure you know why. I tried to do remember Rashidi Yekini by publishing a book and organising a memórial football match for him at Adamasingba stadium..
I know what the lawyer and I went through. No one cares.. I’m so tired now..
Let me leave you with the short biography of the late ace Goalkeeper
Best Ogedegbe was born in Lagos , Nigeria on the 3rd of September 1954. He was discovered by Alan Hawkes in 1974 while he was playing for Spit Fire of the old Oyo State State sports Council coached by late pa Ayo Adeniji who converted him from a striker to to a Goalkeeper.
Best debut for IICC Shooting stars in the first leg semifinals of the African Cup of Winners Cup in 1976 against Zamalek of Egypt in Cairo where IICC lost the first leg by 0-2.Zion Ogunfeyimi the first choice Goalkeeper was sidelined due to injury) He was the hero of the Second leg at the Liberty stadium when he saved Hassan Shehata’s penalty kick and went ahead to scored the final kick against Zamalek.
Best was the stumbling block for for Roger Milla’s Tonnere Kalala of Cameroun as he shown like a brilliant stars for IICC Shooting stars in the finals of the African Cup of winners Cup. Though they lost 0-1, such a goal margin was not enough for their Camerounian opponent who lost 1-4 at the National stadium Surulere, Lagos, thus becoming the first Goalkeeper /player, team to win a Continental trophy for Nigeria.
Despite the prowess of the Okala brothers in the Green Eagles, (Emmanuel and Patrick Okala) at the goal post in the 1980 African Cup of Nations, Best Ogedegbe stole the show and won the first African Cup of Nations for Nigeria. He also represented Nigeria at the 1980.
Best Ogedegbe left for Abeokuta to join Abiola Babes where he eventually became the Team Manager.
Best Ogedegbe worked as goalkeeper trainer for Shooting stars, Wikki Tourists Dolphins F.C and National under 23 team before he breath his Last at the University College Hospital (UCH) exactly 6 years ago today.. Adieu Bestila, Adieu oko Folashade..