Love him or hate him, Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi is an oracle in Nigerian football administration. Since he made inroad into soccer administration in the country, he has always been there, deciding the tempo and direction the management of the game in Nigeria would go.
The ex-player, who has worked in different capacities at the Glass House – as secretary general, chairman Technical Sub-Committee and chairman of chairmen – certainly knows where the bones of Nigerian football are buried. When he finally bowed to pressure to speak to TS Weekend in Abuja during the meeting of the State FA chairmen recently, Ogunjobi went behind the curtain of his life and recounted his glorious playing day, the gains and pains of football administration, what he is missing being out of the Glass House and his promise to bounce back to the mainstream of Nigerian football administration very soon.
Ogunjobi did not just stop there, he also revealed how he planted the love seed that germinated and blossomed into what he now has as a family. His answers on where he met his wife, what attracted him to her, how he overcame pressures from ladies to settle for his heartthrob, why he didn’t play in Europe during his active football days among many other questions, made this chat with the former Shooting Stars FC player a must read. Enjoy Ogunjobi at his best!
What does Super Eagles’ victory at 2013 AFCON mean to Nigeria?
First of all, we have to give thanks to the Almighty God, who made it possible for us to break the calabash at last. We have broken a jinx of 19 years and we are now on top of African football once again. I am delighted that Nigeria is now occupying her rightful place in African soccer rating. No doubt, the victory is a sign of other good things to come our way. With that, we are moving towards occupying our rightful place in the comity of world football playing nations. Coach Stephen Keshi and his boys really did us proud.
What do you think our football administrators and the players did differently to bring the cup to Nigeria?
Some elements of luck really played a major role in the 2013 AFCON success the Super Eagles recorded in South Africa. When you consider the competition from the beginning, especially during the group stage, nobody gave Eagles any chance to win the tournament. But I believe that luck played a major role for Nigeria, especially during the quarterfinal clash with Cote d’Ivoire.
However, Keshi and his players deserve special commendation. They did a good job to make us proud. I pray that we should build on what they did and never to lose focus.How can we consolidate on this success?
We must not rest on our oars. We have to give Keshi all the support to continue with the good work he has started. We must encourage him to pay more attention on discovering talents from the home league. It gladdens my heart that right from the beginning, Keshi announced that he was building a new team and we have seen so fast the result of what he promised us. We should support him to achieve more successes. Above all, the right structures should be put in place for our national teams to stand firm and develop better.
Do you think that Super Eagles will do well at the forthcoming Confederations Cup and the World Cup in Brazil?
From what we have seen, nobody can fault Keshi’s competence and technical ability again in taking Nigerian football to a higher level. He has proved himself by winning the Africa Cup of Nations. What we should do now is to give him all that he needs to succeed. Or what else do we need from a coach who has won the Nations Cup against our expectations? Even though I cannot tell how far we can go at the Confederations Cup and the World Cup in Brazil, we have no reason to entertain fears or doubt Keshi’s ability.
Why didn’t you consider Keshi a good coach for the Super Eagles when you were in a position to employ him for that job?
Yes, he came for interview like every other coach during our time at the Glass House, but all I can say is that it was not his time to get the job then. We went for Shaibu Amodu ahead of him and Samson Siasia because it was not their own time. Thank God he waited for his time and he is now enjoying it.
Can you say that you have met the target you set for yourself in football administration?
I live, sleep, eat, and drink football and will surely die in it. I might not have reached the zenith of football administration, but as long as I live, I will continue to pursue the course of making Nigeria a great football nation. Being out of the Glass House temporarily will not in any way affect my dream or the target I set for myself in football administration. Don’t also forget that I am still administering football at the grassroots and state levels, and I am hoping to bounce back to the top echelon with the input I am currently making at the grassroots. As I earlier said, God will take me there in His time.
I played football and it was football that made me what I am today. It was through football that I got scholarship to study in America. I have contributed to the development of the game and will continue to make contributions till I breathe my last.
Who is your ideal sports minister?
The person has to have sports background with sound education, possibly in the field of sports management. We don’t need somebody, who will destroy the structure instead of building it.
Which of the ‘three killers of men’ – sex, alcohol and smoking – do you mostly indulge in?
Let me first inform you that I am addicted to office work. When I was at the Glass House as the secretary general, I would resume work as early as 8.00am and would close around after 11.00pm. As for your question, I want to tell you that I don’t smoke and I don’t womanise. As for alcohol, I am not a heavy drinker. I can only take one or two bottles.How did you come into football?
I came into football right from my primary school days in Lagos and was very active in the game during my secondary and university education. I played for one of the best clubs, not only in the country, but also on the continent then, that is Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) of Ibadan.
I was called to the Green Eagles’ camp in 1973 during the time we had a German coach for the national team. I want to also remind you that I captained the Academicals that won gold medal in the football event of the 1st Nigeria/Ghana Sports Festival in 1974. In fact, I have done a lot for Nigerian football.
Is your wife in any way a part of your football story?
O yes! She is a real football woman. In fact, I met her in Ibadan when I was playing for 3SC. Currently she is working with the National Sports Commission. She was very happy the day I proposed to marry her. And that was the first day we met.
What was the attraction?
Her character was what made it easy for me to single her out of the lot that were seeking for my attention then. She is a woman any man would pray to have as a wife. Moreover, she is very pretty and I can tell you that her beauty was another trait of hers that arrested me.How did you withstand pressures from ladies in your playing days?
I was very focused and disciplined. I knew that girls would fight to get my attention because of my star status. I was popular as a footballer, but I disciplined myself and handle them perfectly.