Monday, July 21, 2014

England Captain Gerrad announces international retirement.

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England's captain Steven Gerrad has announced his international retirement after making 114 appearances in his 14 year career. The 34-year-old who captained the national side in the 2014 World Cup which they crashed out after two matches admits that his decision to leave the national team is a “a very difficult decision” 

Speaking in an interview with FATV the Liverpool midfielder and captain  said: “This has been a very difficult decision, one of the toughest I've had to make in my career. I have agonized over this since coming back from Brazil and have spoken to family, friends and people close to me in the game before coming to this point.
Most importantly, Brendan ( Rodgers, his manager at Liverpool) has been fantastic and obviously I have to look after my body as much as possible to ensure I can give everything when I take to the field.
To ensure I can keep playing to a high level and giving everything to Liverpool FC I believe this is the right decision, and having Champions League football back at Anfield is another big factor in my decision

Gerrad made his debut appearance in 2000 in a 2-0 win over Ukraine at Wembley and went on to play in 6 major tournaments for England scoring 21 goals over the course of his career. He has captained the national team 38 time and he retired as the third most capped England player of all time behind Peter Shilton (125) and David Beckham (115).

Appreciation: “I'd like to firstly thank my family and friends for all their support throughout my England journey. I'd also like to thank everyone who has been part of my international career, from the England mangers I've played under to the staff at the FA and, of course, all the players I've been fortunate to play alongside. In particular, the supporters have been amazing, not least in Brazil when they got behind the team despite the disappointing results.”

He also added: “ I'd especially like to thank Roy (Hodgson), firstly for giving me the captaincy permanently when he took the job, making me the proudest man in the country and allowing me to fulfill my childhood dream. He has been very understanding over the past few weeks and is a man I will always hold in the highest regard”

Source: FIFA.COM
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Transfer news: AC Milan CEO denies receiving any bid from Arsenal for striker Mario Balotelli

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AC Milan's boss Adriano Galliani has confirmed that the club is yet to receive a bid for Italian player Mario Balotelli.

Revealing more on Balotelli's future with the Italian side, Galliani said: “There's no offer from Arsenal”
He also made a clever comment stating: "But would €20million (£15.8m) be enough? Well without an offer there is no point talking about hypotheses."

It is true that Arsene Wenger met with the striker's agent in June, Mino Raiola in Brazil for talks over a potential 25 million pounds transfer, they however did not make any bid to towards the move.
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Fifa rankings: Nigeria move up, Carpe Verde suffer big drop

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FIFA's World ranking for the month of July was recently released following the completion of the World Cup and this month's ranking includes very major shifts and drops .
One of the main changes in July's ranking includes Germany obvious number 1 position, following their World Cup victory, the current world cup champions are number 1 in FIFA's World ranking for the first time in almost 20 years while Argentina claimed the number 2 spot and The Netherlands jumped to the 3rd position in the world after beating host nation Brazil for the third place in the World Cup.
2010 World Cup champions, Spain who occupied the number 1 spot for a while have dropped to number 8 spot after they crashed out in the first round of the just completed World Cup. Host nations Brazil moved down 4 spots and are now number 7 in the World while Portugal are currently number 11 in the World.

African sides: Nigeria moved up to become the highest African team in FIFA's ranking for July. The Super Eagles of Nigeria now occupy the third spot in the Confederation of African Football region; they also moved up 10 spots in the global list as they are now up to 34th in the World. The Super Eagles of Nigeria did quite well in the just concluded world tournament as they made it to the last 16 before losing 2-0 to France. Along with Nigeria, north African nation Algeria performed well in Brazil and their number 1 spot remains unchanged in Africa.
Worst drops in Africa-Cape Verde suffered a 273 point drop, the biggest by any team in the World and obviously moved down from their fifth position in Africa to 15 and 75th place in the World.
Here's the top 10 African nations (World Ranking in parenthesis)
1. Algeria (24)
2. Ivory Coast (25)
3. Nigeria (34)
4. Egypt (36)
5. Ghana (38)
6. Tunisia (42)
7. Guinea (51)
8. Cameroon (53)
9. Burkina Faso (58)
10. Mali (60)

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Transfer news: Brown Ideye joins West Brom from Dynamo Kiev

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25-year-old Super Eagles player Brown Ideye recently became the fifth signing of the summer for the English side West Brom. Ideye has signed a 3-year contract which is said to be worth around 10 million pounds, the contract comes with an additional 1 year option.

West Brom's new head coach Alan Irvine said: “Brown is a quality striker and I'm looking forward to working with him”
He's a strong, quick, and powerful player who likes to get in behind defences and has plenty of champions League and international experience”
The 25-year-old forward will arrive Hawthorn with an impressive record after scoring 74 goals in 182 league appearances.
For the Nigeria who FIFA recently lifted their ban from international football, Brown has scored 5 goals in 24 appearances and was part of the 2010 World Cup squad.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

FIFA LIFTS BAN IMPOSED ON Nigeria's Football Federation.

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FIFA has lifted the suspension that was imposed on the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) on 9 July 2014 on account of external interference.

The World football governing body ordered ban after a court sacked the Aminu Maigari-led NFF Executive Committee and barred them from overseeing the affairs of Nigerian football.

In a statement released on Friday, the NFF stated that: “FIFA has noted that the court proceedings and order preventing the president of the NFF, the NFF Executive Committee members and the NFF Congress from running the affairs of Nigerian football that prompted the suspension was withdrawn.
As statutory order has been reinstated at the NFF and the legitimate bodies reinstalled, FIFA has decided to lift the suspension as of today, Friday, 18, 2014
The liftin of the suspension means that all rights of the NFF as FIFA members as defined in Article 12 of the FIFA Statues are reinstated.

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Drake and Chris Brown joked about their 2012 bar brawl at the 2014 ESPY Awards Wednesday, July 16

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Drake and Chris Brown let bygone be bygones as they made fun of their 2012 bar brawl in a funny video skit which was shown live at the 2014 ESPYS held on Wednesday July 16 at the Nokia Theater in L.A live.

L.A Clippers's Blake Griffin joined in the as the stars referred to the incident in the clip-they first battled it out with the 2014 ESPYS host whether their segment should be called “Blake and Drake or Drake and Blake”
In the skit, both Drake and Blake end up in a dentist's office, with the NBA player hovering over his rival, as the the horrified rapper asks Griffin, “ Are you really going to do this?

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Oscar Pistorius' family comment on his nightclub scuffle.

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Olympian, Oscar Pistrius who is currently on trial for the murder of his girlfriend was involved in an argument at a trendy Sandton nightclub in South Africa. The incident took place at the VIP Room on Saturday night, a venue known for its high-end clientell and A-list guests.
Pistorius' media representative Anneliese Burgess confirmed that there was indeed an altercation, they however denied it was a case of a “bar brawl” as reported by various media.

In a statement released Burgess said: “We can confirm that Oscar was at the said venue with one of his cousins. They sat in a quiet booth in the VIP section when they were approached by an individual who has now been indentified as a Mr Mortimer.”
The individual in question, according to our client, started to aggressively engage him on matter relating to the trial. An argument ensued during which our client asked to be left alone. Oscar left soon thereafter with his cousin. Our client regrets the decision to go into a public place there inviting unwelcome attention” she added.

His family in a statement said today that going to a nightclub where he got into an altercation in the middle of his murder trial was "unwise" and worried that the paralymian known as the Blade Runner was increasingly involved in "self-harming behavior."

Following the news of the club altercation, Pistorius' uncle, Leo Pistorius issued a statement regarding the nightclub incident, the uncle suggested that the family disapproved of Pistorius' trip to the club, saying that going there “whilst his court case is still underway was unwise”
He also added that: “Those of us closest to him have been witness to his escalating sense of loneliness and alienation. This we believe is underlying some of his self-harming behavior”
As a family we are counseling Oscar to find ways of dealing with his feelings of isolation” the uncle wrote.
Leo Pistroius wrote that he believes: “ that Oscar is grappling with an extreme level of emotional pain that is manifesting itself in some of his recent unwise actions and choices.

Pistorius is charged with the murder of his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, early in the morning of Valentine's Day last year. The double amputee sprinter insists he shot her through a closed bathroom door thinking she was an intruder.
The 27-year-old is facing up to at least 25 years behind bars if convicted of the crime.

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San Jose Sharks fans outraged over team's recruitment of 'Ice Girls'

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Some San Jose Sharks fans recently formed the group “Say Not To Shark Ice Girls” in response to the team's proposed uniform change for its co-ed ice team.
Members of the Shark Ice team wore full outfits that did not expose any skin, however, this year's uniform “May be form fitting with some skin exposure.”

About 1108 persons and counting are against the new uniform change adding that this is offensive and sexist and “reinforces a negative double-standard where men are taken seriously but women are sexualized and objectified.Source: Foxsports

I totally agree with this petition, women in sports should be taken seriously, not for what they look like, but because of their talent. It is unfair the ways in which women are represented, from the cheerleaders, to w omen’s football. Women have more to offer in than their looks.
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Maradona claims Messi won FIFA's Golden Ball award for commercial reasons

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Former Argentine legend and star Diego Maradona believes Colombia' s James Rodriguez deserves the Golden Ball Award, Maradona feels Lionel Messi did not deserve to win the award following his World Cup performance. Deigo claims the 27-year-old won the award for commercial reasons.

Messi beat the likes of Thomas Muller, Arjen Robben and James Rodriguez to win the very prestigious award after the Barcelona star scored 4 goals in 7 appearance at this summer's tournament .
During the final edition of his World Cup program, De Zurda, the former coach and manager of the national team suggested that Colombia's James Rodriuez who was the Golden Boot winner as top scorer in the tournament should have won the Golden Ball award.

Messi is a prominent ambassador for sportswear manufactures Adidas, he is also an official FIFA partner.

Mardona won the Golden Ball during the 1986 World Cup, Argentina were the World Champions in the World Cup. Speaking further he said: “I would give him heaven if possible, but its not right when someone wins something that he shouldn't have won just because of some marketing plan”
Maradona also said: “I could see that he didn't want to go up and collect it/ (award)”

Sunday' s win was the 3rd time in the last three World Cup that Germany will win over Argentina, in 2010, with then coach, and former captain Marodona, Germany trashed Argentia 4-0. Maradona however insists that it was just a glitch in the defense that cost them the title: “Germany won due to a misunderstanding in the defense but at no point were they better than us. They showed us a lot of respect, and our lads earned that out on the pitch.
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Monday, July 14, 2014

Congratulations Germany! They are the 2014 FIFA's World Cup champions.

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A late game goal, after 90 minutes of play, 15 minutes of extra time and in the second half of the extra time, Germany's Mario became a hero after scoring the winning goal for The Team. In what can be described as one of the most physical match of all-time; with head injuries and concussions, both sides failed to score in the whole 90+minutes of the game, Germany won over Argentina in extra time taking home the 2014 World Cup title on Sunday July 13, 2014 with a 1-0 win. 

Two early opportunities from Argentina's Gonzalo Higuain failed to secure a win for the South American team; one sailed wide, and the other found the back of the net only for Higuain's celebration was cut short after he was called off-sides.

Germany gave their all in the game and then some but failed to produce a goal in regular time. A header from Benedikt Howedes bounced off the post towards the end of the first half and although they were persistent in attacks in the second half, they were unable to secure a goal. In extra time, after playing out the first 15 minutes, the second half of extra time seemed fruitless until German substitute Mario Gotze in the 113th minute connected with a cross which went past Argentine keeper Sergio Romero whose performance throughout the tournament remains unmatched.
Germany won their 4th world cup for the first time as a unified nation, and it was the first time any European country will lift the cup on South American soil.


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Commonwealth gold medalist Emmanuel Ifeajuna facing firing squad.

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The Nigerian high jumper became the very first Black African to win a gold medal, his remarkable story has however become tragic.

According to The  Guardian The Guardian  :
The first time Emmanuel Ifeajuna appeared before a crowd of thousands he did something no black African had ever done. He won a gold medal at an international sporting event. “Nigeria Creates World Sensation,” ran the headline in the West African Pilot after Ifeajuna’s record-breaking victory in the high jump at the 1954 Empire and Commonwealth Games in Vancouver. He was the pride not just of Nigeria but of a whole continent. An editorial asked: “Who among our people did not weep for sheer joy when Nigeria came uppermost, beating all whites and blacks together?”
In the words of a former schoolmate, Ifeajuna had leaped “to the very pinnacle of Nigerian sporting achievement”. His nine track and field team-mates won another six silver and bronze medals, prompting a special correspondent to write “Rejoice with me, oh ye sports lovers of Nigeria, for the remarkable achievements of our boys”.
Ifeajuna, feted wherever he went, would soon see his picture on the front of school exercise books. He was a great national hero who would remain Nigeria’s only gold medalist, in Commonwealth or Olympic sport, until 1966.
The next time Ifeajuna appeared before a crowd of thousands he was bare-chested and tied to a stake, facing execution before a seething mob. He had co-led a military coup in January 1966 in which, according to an official but disputed police report, he shot and killed Nigeria’s first prime minister. The coup failed but Ifeajuna escaped to safety in Ghana, dressed as a woman and was driven to freedom by a famous poet. Twenty months later, he was back, fighting for the persecuted Igbo people of eastern Nigeria in a brutal civil war that broke out as a consequence of the coup.
Ifeajuna and three fellow officers were accused by their own leader,General Emeka Ojukwu, of plotting against him and the breakaway Republic of Biafra. They denied charges of treason: they were trying to save lives and their country, they said, by negotiating an early ceasefire with the federal government and reuniting Nigeria. They failed, they died and, in the next two and a half years, so did more than a million Igbos.
The day of the execution was 25 September, 1967, and the time 1.30pm. There was a very short gap between trial and execution, not least because federal troops were closing in on Enugu, the Biafran capital, giving rise to fears that the “guilty four” might be rescued.
As the execution approached, the four men – Ifeajuna, Victor Banjo, Phillip Alale and Sam Agbam – were tied to stakes. Ifeajuna, with his head on his chest as though he was already dead, kept mumbling that his death would not stop what he had feared most, that federal troops would enter Enugu, and the only way to stop this was for those about to kill him to ask for a ceasefire.
A body of soldiers drew up with their automatic rifles at the ready. On the order of their officer, they levelled their guns at the bared chests of the four men. As a hysterical mass behind the firing squad shouted: “Shoot them! Shoot them!” a grim-looking officer gave the command: “Fire!” The deafening volley was followed by lolling heads. Ifeajuna slumped. Nigeria’s great sporting hero died a villain’s death. But he had been right. By 4pm two and a half hours after the executions, the gunners of the federal troops had started to hit their targets in Enugu with great accuracy. The Biafrans began to flee and the city fell a few days later.
Of all the many hundreds of gold medallists at the Empire and Commonwealth Games since 1930 none left such a mark on history, led such a remarkable life or suffered such a shocking death as Ifeajuna.
His co-plotter in the 1966 coup, Chukwuma Nzeogwu, was buried with full military honours and had a statue erected in his memory in his home town. But for Ifeajuna, the hateful verdict of that seething mob carried weight down the years. His name was reviled, his sporting glory all but written out of Nigeria’s history. His name is absent from the website of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, appearing neither in the history of the Federation nor in any other section. There is no easy road to redemption for the gold medallist who inadvertently started a war and was shot for trying to stop it.
Nigeria’s first foray into overseas sport was in 1948, when they sent athletes to London to compete in the Amateur Athletic Association Championships, and to watch the Olympic Games before a planned first entry in the next Olympiad. In 1950 there was cause to celebrate when the high jumper, Josiah Majekodunmi, won a silver medal at the Auckland Commonwealth Games. He also fared best of Nigeria’s Olympic pathfinders, the nine-man team who competed at Helsinki in 1952. Majekodunmi was ninth, with two of his team-mates also in the top 20. Nigerians clearly excelled at the high jump.
With three men having competed in that 1952 Olympic final, the Nigeria selectors had plenty of names to consider for the Commonwealth Games high jump in Vancouver two years later. Ifeajuna, aged 20, was not a contender until he surprised everybody at the national championships in late April, less than two months before the team were due to depart. His jump of 6ft 5.5in, the best of the season, took him straight in alongside Nafiu Osagie, one of the 1952 Olympians, and he was selected.
The high jump was on day one of competition in Vancouver and Ifeajuna wore only one shoe, on his left foot. One correspondent wrote: “The Nigerian made his cat-like approach from the left-hand side. In his take-off stride his leading leg was flexed to an angle quite beyond anything ever seen but he retrieved position with a fantastic spring and soared upwards as if plucked by some external agency.”
Ifeajuna brushed the bar at 6ft 7in but it stayed on; he then cleared 6ft 8in to set a Games and British Empire record, and to become the first man ever to jump 13.5in more than his own height. This first gold for black Africa was a world-class performance. His 6ft 8in – just over 2.03m – would have been good enough for a silver medal at the Helsinki Olympics two years earlier.
The team arrived back home on 8 September. That afternoon they were driven on an open-backed lorry through the streets of Lagos, with the police band on board, to a civic reception at the racecourse. The flags and bunting were out in abundance, as were the crowds in the middle and, for those who could afford tickets, the grandstand. There was a celebration dance at 9pm. Ifeajuna told reporters he had been so tired, having spent nearly four hours in competition, that: “At the time I attempted the record jump I did not think I had enough strength to achieve the success which was mine. I was very happy when I went over the bar on my second attempt.”
After a couple of weeks at home Ifeajuna was off to university on the other side of the country at Ibadan. His sporting career was already over, apart from rare appearances in inter-varsity matches. He met his future wife, Rose, in 1955. They married in 1959 and had two sons. After graduating in zoology he taught for a while before joining the army in 1960 and was trained in England, at Aldershot. Ifeajuna had first shown an interest in the military in 1956 when, during a summer holiday in Abeokuta, he had visited the local barracks with a friend who later became one of the most important figures in the Commonwealth.
Chief Emeka Anyaoku joined the Commonwealth Secretariat in 1966, the year of Ifeajuna’s coup attempt. While his good friend escaped, returned, fought in the war and died in front of the firing squad, Anyaoku moved to London, where he rose to the highest office in the Commonwealth,secretary-general, in 1990. For four years at university he lived in a room next door to Ifeajuna, who became a close friend.
Why did the record-breaking champion stop competing? “From October, 1954, when he enrolled at Ibadan, he never trained,” said Anyaoku, nearly 60 years later. “He never had a coach – only his games master at grammar school – and there were no facilities at the university. He simply stopped. He seemed content with celebrating his gold medal. I don’t think the Olympics ever tempted him. I used to tease him that he was the most natural hero in sport. He did no special training. He was so gifted, he just did it all himself. Jumping barefoot, or with one shoe, was not unusual where we came from.”
Another hugely influential voice from Nigerian history pointed out that Ifeajuna, in his days as a student, had “a fairly good record of rebellion”. Olusegun Obasanjo served as head of a military regime and as an elected president. He recalled Ifeajuna’s role in a protest that led to the closure of his grammar school in Onitsha for a term in 1951, when he was 16. Three years after winning gold, while at university, Ifeajuna made a rousing speech before leading several hundred students in protest against poor food and conditions.
The former president also held a manuscript written by Ifeajuna in the aftermath of the coup but never published. It stated: “It was unity we wanted, not rebellion. We had watched our leaders rape our country. The country was so diseased that bold reforms were badly needed to settle social, moral, economic and political questions. We fully realised that to be caught planning, let alone acting, on our lines, was high treason. And the penalty for high treason is death.”
In 1964 the Lagos boxer Omo Oloja won a light-middleweight bronze in Tokyo, thereby becoming Nigeria’s first Olympic medallist. It was a rare moment of celebration in a grim year that featured a general strike and a rigged election. Another election the following year was, said the BBC and Reuters correspondent Frederick Forsyth, seriously rigged – “electoral officers disappeared, ballot papers vanished from police custody, candidates were detained, polling agents were murdered”. Two opposing sides both claimed victory, leading to a complete breakdown of law and order. “Rioting, murder, looting, arson and mayhem were rife,” said Forsyth. The prime minister, Tafawa Balewa, refused to declare a state of emergency. There was corruption in the army, too, with favouritism for northern recruits. A group of officers began to talk about a coup after they were told by their brigadier that they would be required to pledge allegiance to the prime minister, from the north, rather than the country’s first president, an Igbo. Ifeajuna’s group feared a jihad against the mainly Christian south, led by the north’s Muslim figurehead, the Sardauna of Sokoto.
The coup, codenamed Leopard, was planned in secret meetings. Major Ifeajuna led a small group in Lagos, whose main targets were the prime minister, the army’s commander-in-chief, and a brigadier, who was Ifeajuna’s first victim. According to the official police report, part of which has never been made public, Ifeajuna and a few of his men broke into the prime minister’s home, kicked down his bedroom door and led out Balewa in his white robe. They allowed him to say his prayers and drove him away in Ifeajuna’s car. On the road to Abeokuta they stopped, Ifeajuna ordered the prime minister out of the car, shot him, and left his body in the bush. Others say the Prime Minister was not shot, nor was the intention ever to kill him: Balewa died of an asthma attack or a heart attack brought on by fear. There has never been conclusive evidence either way.
Ifeajuna drove on to Enugu, where it became apparent that the coup had failed, mainly because one of the key officers in Ifeajuna’s Lagos operation had “turned traitor” and had failed to arrive as planned with armoured cars. Major-General Ironsi, the main military target, was still at large and he soon took control of the military government. Ifeajuna was now a wanted man. He hid in a chemist’s shop, disguised himself as a woman, and was driven over the border by his friend Christopher Okigbo, a poet of great renown. Then he travelled on to Ghana, where he was welcomed.
Ifeajuna eventually agreed to return to Lagos, where he was held pending trial. Ojukwu, by now a senior officer, ensured his safety by having him transferred, in April, to a jail in the east. Igbos who lived in the north of the country were attacked. In weeks of violent bloodshed tens of thousands died. As the death toll increased, the outcome was civil war. In May, 1967, Ojukwu, military governor of the south-east of Nigeria, declared that the region had now become the Republic of Biafra. By the time the fighting ended in early 1970, the number of deaths would be in the millions.
Arguably, if either of Ifeajuna’s plots had been a success, those lives would not have been lost. The verdicts on his role in Nigerian history are many and varied: his detractors have held sway. Chief among them was Bernard Odogwu, Biafra’s head of intelligence, who branded Ifeajuna a traitor and blamed him for “failure and atrocities” in the 1966 coup. Adewale Ademoyega, one of the 1966 plotters, held a different view of Ifeajuna. “He was a rather complicated character ... intensely political and revolutionary ... very influential among those close to him ... generous and willing to sacrifice anything for the revolution.”
The last time Anyaoku saw Ifeajuna was in 1963, in Lagos, before Anyaoku’s departure for a diplomatic role in New York. He later moved to London and was there in 1967. “I was devastated when I heard the news of the execution,” he said. As for Ifeajuna being all but written out of Nigeria’s sporting history, he noted that: “The history of the civil war still evokes a two-sided argument. He is a hero to many people, though they would more readily talk about his gold medal than his involvement in the war. There are people who think he was unjustifiably executed and others who believe the opposite.”
One commentator suggested recently that the new national stadium in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, should be named after Ifeajuna. It will surely never happen.
Brian Oliver is a former sports editor of the Observer. This is an edited extract from his book, The Commonwealth Games: Extraordinary Stories Behind The Medal, published by Bloomsbury.
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