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Soccer News of Tuesday, 16 August 2022


Ernest Okonkwo: The famous Nigerian commentator who named Segun Odegbami 'Mathematical'

Ernest Okonkwo Ernest Okonkwo

You can call him the old-day Peter Drury or any other but Ernest Okonkwo is arguably the greatest football commentator Nigeria has ever seen and certainly one of the best commentators on the African continent in the mid-90s.

He was as famous as the football stars on display with his creative compelling minute-by-minute commentary painting a perfect picture for the radio listener.

He combined passion, fun, creativity, and professionalism in his work.

His name may not resonate with the current generation of Nigerian football lovers but the older folks can attest to the fact that he was a true gem.

Early Life

Ernest Okonkwo was born in the year 1936 in Nando Anambra- East Local Government Area, present-day Anambra State.

He had his basic education at a local primary school before continuing at the famous Government College, present-day Imo State for his secondary education.

He later joined Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation, now the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), where he began his journalism profession.

Check out some of his famous commentary lines below:

"Iron Gate Emmanuel Okala throws the ball to 'Chairman' Christian Chukwu.
Chukwu taps the ball to the 'Dean of Defence' Yisa Sofoluwe; Sofoluwe sends a telegraphic pass to 'Midfield Maestro' Mudashiru Lawal. Muda Lawal dribbles two defenders and sends the ball to 'Mathematical' Segun Odegbami."

"Odegbami dilly-dallies, shilly-shallies, and locates 'Elastic' Humphrey Edobor. The storm is gathering near the opponent's goal area and it would soon rain a goal. Edobor turns quickly to the right and returns the ball to Odegbami. Odegbami kicks the ball towards 'Quick Silver' Sylvanus Okpala who shoots an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile from outside the penalty box. It is a goal, it is a goal, Nigeria has scored."

"He beats Christian Chukwu, he beats Christian Madu, he beats Christian Nwokocha. He beats three Christians in a row! Who is this man? He must be a Muslim. Oh! It's Shefiu Mohammed sending a diagonal pass to Baba Otu Mohammed."

"Okey Isima, with a short pass to Sylvanus Okpala. They both play in Portugal. The can communicate in Igbo, they can communicate in English, they can communicate in Portuguese and they just communicated with the ball."

"Nigeria has scored Nigeria" (after Godwin Odiye's own goal against Tunisia in 1977).

Sports Nomenclature

Ernest Okonkwo was well known for giving unique nicknames to players based on their style of play and qualities.

Check out some of the names he gave to some Nigerian players below:

Segun Odegbami (Mathematical), Sylvanus Okpala, (Quick Silver), Yisa Sofoluwe ( Dean of Defence) Adokiye Amiesimaka (Chief Justice), Emmanuel Okala (Tallest), Christian Chukwu (Chairman), Aloysius Atuegbu (Blockbuster), Kelechi Emetole (Caterpillar), Idowu Otubusen (Slow Poison).

His Death

Okonkwo passed on August 7, 1990, bringing an end to a 33-year career in sports journalism with the Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation. He left behind his wife Mrs. Joy Okonkwo and five other children. May His soul rest in peace.