Ex Flying Eagles star hails Success Tiyu on Legendary Sports Award initiative

Ex Flying Eagles star hails Success Tiyu on Legendary Sports Award initiative

… Appeal to FG to fulfil promises made to 83′ sets

The name Dehinde Akinlotan may not be known to new generation of soccer enthusiasts, but its a household name to football followers of yesteryears.

Akinlotan was part of Nigeria’s U20 team that played in their first ever FIFA U20World Cup in Mexico in 1983 and also played for Nigeria U23 team in the 1984/85 Olympic qualifiers.
Akinlotan played for the famous Abiola Babes in the 80s before jetting out to play in the United States. He starred for Boston Bolts. He’s now a coach in the US.

In this exclusive interview with Wale Mustapha, Akinlotan revealed the Mexico 83 experience and how playing football for Nigeria has helped his life.

He also spoke about the upcoming Legendary Sports Award organized by Success Tiyu International to honor selected players who made Nigeria proud in the 80s just as he called on Federal Government to fulfill promises made to the team then.

Read on:

Q: Since your set of players qualified and play for Nigeria in their maiden appearance at the FIFA U20 World Cup, have you been recognized or honored for your feat?

Akinlotan: None whatsoever and we have not been given any recognition.
A lot of people have tried to put together something of such but because of one thing or the other it couldn’t materialise, but now with what I have been reading and hearing that they are going to put something of this together to remember what we did for Nigeria, I believe if this one goes well then we can continue with other people that have worked very hard for Nigeria.

Q: Because you played for Nigeria, have you had opportunity or personal edge ahead of others, for instance in recognition when you tell them you played for Nigeria?

Akinlotan: Well, the University that I went to in United States, when I get there and told them I was from Nigeria and I played for Nigeria, the whole university was of the feeling of wanting to see what I can do on the field and who’s that person that said he played for Nigeria., knowing Nigeria is well recognized in the world .

I would probably dabble in to some other sports. Our participation in sports is very very high and when we talk football people gives us respect and then we do show it, but when we play, we do play for the glory of the country not for the glory of what we can get because as at then, Nigeria was grade A. Everybody does what they are meant to do and not concerned of what is going on.
Everything went well back then and I pray that today’s world, things become a little bit better as it was in the beginning.

Q: In view of the recent recognition made by the federal Government to ex internationals. Being the first set in Nigeria that participated in the maiden Under 20 World Cup, have you been recognized and were the pledges made to your set then, redeemed and what are you telling the government now?

Akinlotan: It has not been redeemed and we have tried so hard to remind the government because we know government is continuous right? And we have tried to remind every government since then. But it shouldn’t be that we have to be repeating over and over, because a country like Nigeria that everybody back then is clamouring to play for, it should be that when they win laurels for the country, the promises government made should be delivered if it’s not in that year then it should be done by the present government.

But like I said we have tried so many times to remind them about such a thing but again we are still trying, we have never given up and I will also commend the government for recognizing the ’94 players that were recently given their rewards but on our issues, we have never been close to it but now I believe God is pushing us towards that and I pray the government will finally come to our rescue.

Q: What are the fun memories you had then and what are the major happenings you can easily remember and the players you could remember that were your team mates back then?

Akinlotan: Lot of players, but first, one thing about our set I can tell you, we are the most united team, and were always together in doing everything, when we go out, we go out together, like going for the side sea, everybody is going and we come back together, same thing with the way we play, when we were on the field, on the bench, everybody was supporting what we do, it was a very good squad, majority of us that are still alive , (may the soul of departed ones rest in Peace) we still get in touch with one another we talk, talk about our families ,kids and again it’s something that is of great memories that one cannot forget and during the games.

I probably might not remember most of the players but I still remember players like Tajudeen Disu, Wahab Adeshina, Tarila Okorowanta, yisa Shofoluwe (may his Soul rest in Peace) Chibozo Ihelebu, these are players when you see the talents (in them) it is all parked and then talk of Goalkeepers – Patrick Udoh , Raymond King (May his Soul rest in Peace also), the likes of Yemi Adebanjo and others, it’s a group with great talents.

Q: What do you make of the the Nigerian Football Legendary award organized by Success TIYU International to recognize ex Nigerian internationals of your set?

Akinlotan: First thing first, when history is made, someone can not erase it, when the Green Eagles won the Nation’s Cup back then, everybody saw it, for a team to qualify for World Cup which is the biggest stage in any competition and being the first in Africa, goes on from securing Africa’s first place to represent the country at the world level, it shows it all, and all I can just tell the organisers is what ever they are doing to bring this to fruition, I pray that God Almighty will continue to guide them and see them through to see that everybody that has been promised one thing or the other get what they were promised for because we don’t give them what we want, it is the government that said we are giving you this, and if government says something, government should follow up and make sure that they do it.

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