Okala predicts Anambra State’s dominance of Nigerian sports
Former Green Eagles goalkeeper, Emmanuel Okala has predicted that Anambra State would soon become Nigeria’s number one sports state following Governor Willie Obiano’s investment in catch-them-young programmes.
Okala, a member of the then Green Eagles squad that won the 1980 edition of the African Cup of Nations in Lagos, was the fans’ favourite for many years following his commanding stature in the goalkeeping area.
Apart from ruling as the nation’s best goalie between 1972 and 1980, Okala emerged as the first Nigerian to win the African Footballer of the Year award. With his height and intimidating size, Okala ‘The Iroko’ always scared away attackers from the Eagles goal area. Apart from the 1980 African Nations Cup trophy, Okala provided cover for the Green Eagles during the 1973 edition of the All African Games football event, which they won in Lagos.
Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, Okala, who was among the pioneering members of Enugu Rangers stated that Governor Obiano’s investment in grassroots sports programmes would soon yield positive results for the country.
Since June 2014, Okala has been Governor Willie Obiano’ Senior Special Assistant on Sports Matters. He revealed that Obiano had been taking care of ex Rangers players with monthly stipends since 2014.
“Governor Obiano is the only one among the eastern state governors who take care of Ex-Rangers players. We are 80 in number, and we just finished our monthly meeting at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium in Enugu a few minutes ago. We remain grateful to Obiano,” Okala stated.
Speaking further, Okala, who belongs to the category of Nigeria’s greatest goalkeepers of all time alongside the likes of Carl O’Dwyer, Eyo Essien, Sam Ibiam, Innua Lawal Rigogo and Peter Fregene, said: “Governor Obiano always takes the issue of sports very serious in Anambra State. He doesn’t make noise about what he is doing, but very soon, his achievement in sports will speak for itself.”
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