Tribute to Jide Dina, a fallen Eagle – Segun Odegbami

Tribute to Jide Dina, a fallen Eagle – Segun Odegbami

Last night, I received a call from a friend in Jos, sadly informing me that another one of us has bitten the dust.

Despite my fatigue about writing tributes about làte friends and colleagues in this unfortunate season of deaths, I realised I must write about Jide Dina who died in the early hours of Thursday after a spell of ill-health.

Not too many football fans would recall a Jide Dinà and his exploits in Nigerian football. But I do, because we are of the same generation, and we both grew up in Jos. Whilst he attended St. John’s College, I was in St.Murumba College, and the two schools were staunch football rivals.

We were both invited to the national team around the same period in the miď-1970s, he from Mighty Jets FC of Jos where he manned the Central Defense of that great team, and I from IICC Shooting Stars FC.

Jide was an extremely hard and gifted defender. Unfortunately, with players like Christian Chukwu, Godwin Odiyè and so on in the national squad at the time he joined, it was an uphill task for him to secure a permanent shirt in the Green Eagles.

I remember 1976 in particular.
He was so good that he was listed and registered in the final squad for the Olympic Games of Montreal, Canada.

On completing my studies at the Polytechnic in the summer of that year,  I played a match against Bata Bullets? FC of Zambia at the National Stadium, Lagos. I played like a man on a mission, soaring high like an eagle, scored 2 great goals for Shooting Stars FC in that Africa Cup winners Cup match, and impressed the national team coaches so much that they had to draft and register me, by all means, for the Olympics even after the close of registration in Canada.

That meant that an already registered player had to be ‘sacrificed’ and must be taken off the Green Eagles list in order to accommodate me in the squad.

The ‘lamb’ turned out to be my childhood friend and compatriot, Jide Dina. I don’t know if it was ever revealed to him, because, although he was not dropped from the trip to Canada, he did not make the final team list.

He spent a few years in the Green Eagles. I believe he actually travelled with the team to Brazil preparatory to the African Cup of Nations in 1979. But once again, on the eve of the championship,  he must have been replaced because he was not there when the 1980 AFCON campaign in Lagos began.

Jide, surely, was a great player, a gentleman to the core, and a rock solid defender in the mould of Ismaila Mabo who was his mentor and coach.

I commiserate with his family as well as the entire Nigerian football family for the loss of yet another one of the country’s great sons and heroes!

Travel well, Jide Dina.

Segun Odegbami

Odegbami is a former captain of the Nigerian national team and winner of the 1980 AFCON

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