On this date 30 July 1972, the legendary Nigerian footballer, Tesilimi Balogun died in Ibadan. He was the next Nigerian footballer, after Titus Okere, to sign a professional contract.
He ventured to England in August 1955 to sign for Peterborough United, two years after teammate in Nigeria’s maiden national team, Titus Okere, signed for Swindon FC.
Balogun was one of the 18 players that constituted Nigeria’s first national team 74 years ago.
He scored Nigeria’s first ever-international goal when the famed UK Tourists beat Sierra Leone 2-0 in their return voyage on 8 October 1949 in Freetown. As first Nigerian footballer to venture abroad, he also played for Skegness Town before signing for Queens Park Rangers.
Last year, it was 50 years since his death and an elaborate memorial was held for him. It included a launch of a book “Tesilimi ‘Thunder’ Balogun – Legacies of a Legend.”
In Nigeria, the early history of the national cup final will be incomplete without a chronicle of Balogun’s exploits. The early history of the then Challenge Cup is almost an historical account of Balogun’s football career.
He became the first player to score a hattrick in the final. The feat is significant considering the fact that up till the 2019 Aiteo Cup final, only two other players, Frank Nwalaka in 1958 and Felix Adedeji in 1969 – were the only other players to have scored three goals in Nigeria’s national cup final matches.
For his accomplishment, the Teslim Balogun Stadium was named after him.
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