By Nnamdi Ezekute:
This is a tribute to the Late Amodu Shuaibu whose sudden death was confirmed Saturday morning, June 11 2016.
I must confess that I feel jittery writing this, for an obvious reason.
I'm neither a prophet, nor a seer, but on Thursday, June 9 2016, I saw it in the fantasy realm that former Super Eagles coach, Amodu Shuaibu had already passed away – precisely a day after Keshi snuffed it, and a day before Amodu himself confirmed my premonition by 'dying his real death'.
How it happened? I had decided to write my tribute to the late former Super Eagles captain and coach, Keshi, and the late four-time World Heavyweight Boxing Champion, Muhammad Ali (the tribute still fresh on my Completesportsnigeria.com blog, MoreGoals!).
I was going to ruminate on the just causes that Stephen Keshi stood for and which he had passion for before he departed. Alas! Rather than reflecting on the Keshi things, my mind simply went berserk, reliving my one memorable one-on-one encounter with Shaibu Amodu, obviously daydreaming it he was the one who passed away.
Enveloped by the spur of a bad omen, I also beheld in my mind's eyes, the very pictures of Amodu that will go with my tribute to him. They were images that aptly depicted that encounter with him. Remember this happened about 48 hours before Amodu was confirmed dead. I quickly recovered from the subconscious drift and went ahead write my Keshi/Ali tribute.
To be honest, I detest this experience now. It was the first time I nursed any feeling like a premonition about the death of anyone.
Completesportsnigeria.com Deputy Editor, Nurudeen Obalola got the breaking news for us on Amodu's death very early Saturday morning, June 11. I accessed a copy of this shocking news item he e-mailed me just as the story was hitting our website. I could only gaze into space for a long time like a stoic philosopher, in utter bewilderment, trying to reconcile my Thursday's daydream and the reality of the moment about Amodu.
I recovered and quickly called Nurudeen, unsure if I would be asking for a confirmation of that cruel shocker of a 'breaking news'. I heard a frail voice and a sober man telling me how so weak he felt and even wobbly in writing a death story of a second Nigerian football icon in barely three days after Stephen Keshi gave up the ghost.
"Is my own situation not worse?,"I thought. A condition of having felt someone's death before he actually died the next day is very distractive.
Amodu had similar passion as Stephen Keshi – the unflinching passion to have Nigerian football coaches emancipated. No matter what argument anybody will put up to dispute Amodu's competence on the job, he achieved tangible goals at both the club and national team levels.
I believe that Amodu prided himself in those achievements and put up a struggle for the emancipation of the Nigeria's indigenous coaches. He believed in himself. He also believed in the competence of many other indigenous coaches. He wanted the authorities and Nigerians to understand and stop looking down on their own people in favour of the foreign coaches.
Back to my memorable encounter with Amodu, which now finally forms the fulcrum of my tribute to him.
Amodu had just fielded questions from journalists in a World Press Conference as Super Eagles coach during the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola in 2010. I accosted him privately, for more 'exclusives' just as he broke away from a horde of friends, acquaintances and guests in the the lobby of Super Eagles hotel in the Angolan city of Lubango. (Pictured above is yours truly, at the scene of that memorable encounter in Lubango, Angola).
Suddenly, he stopped , with only myself and his visiting guest in his company. He made a point, the vintage Amodu. He blurted: "They're sick in the head!," obviously directing the stick to the then NFF board. "All that many of them work hard at is the means of pushing out the coach. They aspire to get an opportunity to campaign about getting a foreign coach. But nobody talks about a foreign NFF board."
Amodu then turned to me, and retracted: "Please, this is off record. I was actually talking to my friend here." He tapped his guest's back as he refrained. Everybody laughed. Well, I didn't do an exclusive story out of that Amodu's outburst until now, when he is 'no-more'! To me, it's an important reference to explain a cause he put up a struggle for.
As the authorities flood the news media with Amodu version of their hypocritical tributes, they must embark on the needful too – immortalise the man who worked very hard to contribute in winning laurels and worldwide accolades for Nigeria.
Amodu's glittering moments: he won the Nigerian FA Cup title at different times with BCC Lions of Gboko and El-Kanemi Warriors of Maiduguri; an Africa Cup Winners Cup champion in 1990 as the coach of BCC Lions; he was so good that he was appointed Super Eagles coach on four occasions; led Nigeria to qualify for two FIFA World Cups – in 2002 and 2010, but never went to the World Cup as he was sacked prior to the World Cup final tournament on both occasions; Amodu won two AFCON bronze medal as Nigeria coach – at Mali 2002 and Angola 2010. He died as the Technical Director of Nigeria's national football teams.
Adieu Amodu, RIP.