Emmanuel Oguajiofor Okala, a former Green Eagles goalkeeper, turned 70 on Monday, May 17.
He won the award for “Footballer of the Year” in 1978 after winning the 1980 African Cup of Nations tournament while representing Nigeria.
Okala was one of the heroes of the gold-medal winning team of the Second All Africa Games in 1973, a member of the winning squad of the 1980 African Cup of Nations, and a member of the 1977 Africa Cup-Winners’ Cup Rangers International FC team.
In his prime, Babuje as he was fondly called, was undoubtedly the most famous and most recognisable sports figure on the African continent with his imposing six feet five inches frame.
His fearsome disposition between the goal posts, and his completely harmless and humane person outside it were revered.
Okala remains, to date, the first and only goalkeeper in the history of African football to be crowned Africa’s Player of the Year by the African Sports Journalists Union, ASJU, in 1975.