The debate regarding who is the country’s most exceptional footballer in history usually radiates around modern players, but a veteran coach has introduced a new angle
Former Super Eagles head coach Adegboye Onigbinde has rated ex-international Teslim ‘Thunder’ Balogun as Nigeria’s greatest ever player, ignoring the outstanding duo of Austin Okocha and Nwankwo Kanu.
Okocha is widely regarded as the most technically gifted individual to have ever featured for the three-time African champions. At the same time, Kanu is one of the most decorated Nigerian in history, winning the UEFA Champions League and league titles in England and the Netherlands.
But no one, according to 1982 Afcon silver-winning coach Onigbinde, outshines Balogun, the first Nigerian to play professional football in England.
Balogun won the Nigerian Challenge Cup a total of five times in seven finals and was a member of the Nigerian national side for 12 years.
He then became the first African to qualify as a professional coach, leading the Nigerian team to the 1968 Summer Olympics.
Onigbinde, a former FIFA and CAF instructor, saw enough of the ex-Peterborough and QPR star to know he’s better than every Nigerian footballer before or after him.
“The greatest footballer Nigeria has ever produced was Teslim ‘Thunder’ Balogun,” Onigbinde said, as quoted by The Nation Online.
“There is no doubt about it. As a footballer, he did many things players before his time, those of his time and after and even years to come did not do and have not been able to do with the ball.”
Balogun died in 1972, aged 45.