By Onochie Anbeze
My friend, you saw Abraham three decades ago and we made merry in Lagos. I remember that day in your Ikeja house where you said “I have seen Abraham from the balcony of my house”.
The Dutch celebrate the special age of 50, praying and claiming the special blessings of Abraham. It is biblical. 30 years down the line, it is my prayer that God will continue to grant you the grace of faith in him to continue to see Abraham and enjoy the blessings of the Father of faith.
Happy birthday to Nigeria’s best coach ever. You were Nigerian. I saw you pound yam in your house and we ate Egusi soup with it. I saw you stop by the roadside on our way from Ota training site for you to buy Akara.
When a crowd gathered and showered praises on you, with one saying ‘coachito you are doing well, we love you and another saying’with you we can go to the World Cup,’ you got emotional and said to me: ‘These are the people I work for, not the man upstairs(bigman). They inspire me and for them I work like a horse and I’m happy about it. When they say such things to you, you must work for them. You must not let them down. ”
You worked with passion and we got the result. I remember Stephen Keshi and Christian Chukwu embracing you tightly and shedding tears of joy that day in Algeria when we qualified for our first ever World Cup finals.
It was emotional. Pa Chuba Ikpeazu after employing you as our new coach in 1989 told you that ‘it will be nice for you to win the Nations Cup but what is most important to us is qualifying for the World Cup finals for the first time.
Nigeria will never forget you if you do so.’ Justice Ikpeazu was the NFA chairman then. You won the Nations Cup in Tunisia and added it to your bronze and silver medals earlier. And you qualified us for the World Cup finals, Eagles landing in USA’ 94 as African champions.
Nigeria ranked 5 in the world after the World Cup. It remains the best any African country has ever attained. You did all these and today you turn 80. You remain our SPECIAL ONE.
May God grant you many more years in good health and prosperity having seen Abraham many more times. Happy birthday to a wonderful friend. Enjoy, even in these times of Coronavirus pandemic. It will not come your way, in Jesus name. Amen. HAPPY CELEBRATIONS.