Sports Minister Sunday Dare has lavished encomiums on the victorious 1980 Green Eagles on the fortieth anniversary of their winning the most coveted football trophy on the continent.
Exactly 40 years ago on March 22nd 1980, the Green Eagles led by Christian Chukwu defeated Algeria 3-0 in Lagos to win Nigeria’s first-ever Africa Cup of Nations title.
Commemorating the 40th anniversary of the historic feat, Dare said: “We salute the gallantry of the victorious 1980 Nations cup winning Green for bringing glory and honour to our fatherland.”
“Their feat opened a new chapter in the history of Nigerian Football and inspired generations of younger players to excel on the field of play.
“They not only arrested the attention of world football; they opened opportunities for others to pursue professional football.
“A big congratulations to all members of that great team for winning the Nations Cup for the first time on home soil. Their achievement brings fond memories to us about the never say die Nigerian spirit.”
Dare said the Government had planned to celebrate the 40th anniversary by honouring members of the epoch-making team, but plans were put on hold due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 which led to the suspension of all sporting activities in the country.
“We were planning to celebrate this anniversary in style in honour of these great patriots,but due to the COVID-19 scourge, we had to put it on hold. Once the situation returns to normal, we shall celebrate these worthy Nigerians. We shall continue to honour those that have won laurels for our great country. Their immense sacrifice cannot be forgotten.”
Speaking in the same vein, Nigerian Football Ambassador Daniel Amokachi described the team as more talented than the 1994 Nations Cup winning Super Eagles squad.
“The 1980 Green Eagles are the most talented Nigerian team. They were even better than the 1994 Squad that a lot of Nigerians considered very talented,” Amokachi said.
“This team is under-celebrated. Imagine a team that had Best Ogedegbe, Kadiri Ikhana, Muda Lawal, Segun Odegbami, Adokiye Amiesimaka, Christian Chukwu, Tunde Bamidele, Aloysius Atuegbu, Segun Odegbami and Henry Nwosu among others. We have not done justice to these players because no archives are detailing their achievements.
“Television was not too common then, so a lot of the younger generation did not watch them play. Each time I watch the old videos, I get inspired.
“They deserve to be celebrated more because their achievement encouraged a lot of younger players. They were not only talented, but they were also patriots and heroes who opened up opportunities for many younger players.
“They have a big space in the history of not only Nigerian Football, but Africa and the world at large. They can never be forgotten any time the history of football is discussed,” Amokachi affirmed.