By Lawrence Oshodi (SPORTS CORRESPONDENT) –
President Muhammadu Buhari has sent warm greetings to renowned goalkeeper of the Green Eagles (now Super Eagles) of Nigeria, Emmanuel Okala, as he marks his 71st birthday today.
The Nigerian President, in a statement by his Special Adviser (Media & Publicity), Femi Adesina, rejoiced with the sportsman who earned global recognition and awards for his prowess in the field.
President Buhari joined his family, team mates, teeming fans and professional colleagues in celebrating the auspicious occasion, which brings back memories of his patriotism on and off the pitch in the 70’s and 80’s, being one of the heroes of the winning squad of 1980 African Cup of Nations, and member of 1977 Africa Cup-Winners’ Cup Rangers International FC team.
The President affirms that Okala made history as the first goalkeeper in the history of African football to be crowned Africa’s Player of the Year by the African Sports Journalists Union, ASJU, in 1975, and was part of the team that won All-Africa Games football gold in Lagos in 1973, also taking bronze medals at the Africa Cup of Nations in 1978.
As the footballer and administrator turns 71, President Buhari extoled his contributions to the development of sports in the country, remaining a light and inspiration to many young Nigerians.
The President prayed for the wellbeing of Okala and his family.