1983 Flying Eagles Squad To Honour Ali Jeje’s Legacy, Awards Son Full Scholarship

Flying Eagles

Guided by the leadership of Paul Okoku, the 1983 set of Flying Eagles, has honoured the memory of their late captain, Ali Jeje, by awarding a full scholarship to his son, Abdul Rahman Jeje.

The 1983 Flying Eagles team to the first World Cup in Mexico, became the first Nigerian national football team to qualify and represent the country in a FIFA World Cup tournament.

Paul Okoku, assistant captain of the team, alongside his then teammates, engaged Abdul Rahman Jeje regarding his aspirations before reaching the decision of granting him a full scholarship. The team was reminded of the gentleman-like nature of Ali Jeje, who led the team and Nigeria in the watershed moment at the first World Cup 41 years ago.


Ali Jeje passed away in early 2000s, after being faced with hardship and illness. However, his comrades of over four decades determined that supporting his son’s educational journey through scholarship, would be a perfect way to demonstrate brotherliness.


In a statement released by him, Paul Okoku recalled how Nigeria defeated Guinea over the two legs to qualify for the tournament, an achievement in Nigeria’s football history at the competition, and thanked all his teammates for being part of the goodwill towards the family of the late Nigeria international.


“During his tenure as our able captain, I had the privilege of serving as his deputy captain. This historic moment marked the first time a Nigerian national team represented Nigeria in any FIFA organized World Cup tournament, in the football history of Nigeria. Hence, the team represented the continent of Africa during the FIFA World Cup championships, in Mexico, in 1983. Excerpts from the interview with the late Fetus Okubule, the first Nigerian referee at any FIFA World Cup tournament, in Mexico, 1983, courtesy of the 1983 Flying Eagles squad: ‘Meanwhile, it was in 1983 that Okubule became the first Nigerian referee at a FIFA tournament when he was picked for the FIFA Youth Championship (now FIFA U-20 World Cup) in Mexico.’


“Incidentally that was also the first FIFA tournament attended by a Nigerian national team, when the Flying Eagles qualified after beating Guinea over two legs and he was the centre referee in the Group B match between Poland and the United States in Pueblo as well as the game between Brazil and Holland at the Jalisco Stadium, Guadalajara. At the tournament, two other African referees – Bernard Grah of Cote D’Ivoire and Mohammed Larache of Morocco – were sent home after the Group games while Okubule was among the 12 retained to proceed with the remaining matches. Nonetheless, Ali Jeje endured significant hardships, facing years of illness before his passing in the early 2000s. In light of his contributions and the legacy he left behind, we believe it is fitting to support his son’s educational journey through this scholarship.


“Furthermore, on behalf of the Esteemed Solidarity Flying Eagles Team, 1983 set, and as the vice captain of the history-making squad, I salute you, my fellow teammates, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to all our team members who generously supported this initiative financially and in kind who deserve our genuine appreciation for their integral role in the scholarship scheme: Chibuzor Ehilegbu, Otti Amaechi, Paul Okoku, Femi Olukanni, Segun Olukanni,

Dehinde Akinlotan, Taju Disu, Dahiru Sadi, Tarila Okorowanta, Manu Garba, Alphonsus Akhahon, Sunday Edema Benson, Yemi Adebanjo, Samson Siasia, Patrick Udoh, Muyiwa Manny Motajo, Humphrey Edobor, Bright Benson, Wahab Adesina, Wilfred Agbonabare, Christopher Anigala, Yisa Sofoluwe, Raymond King, Mike Igbeka and Tarfa Kpako.


“I couldn’t be prouder of your courage, as a team, and dedication to our association. Your involvement in this initiative exemplifies true teamwork and demonstrates the power of collective action. Your unwavering support has made this scholarship possible, allowing us to honour Ali Jeje’s memory and invest in the future of his family. My humble gratitude is in line here as I once again express my thank you immensely to all our teammates for your outstanding support and commitment. Your contribution to this scholarship is not only commendable but also life-changing for Abdul Rahman Jeje. It is essential to reflect on the profound impact you have had on his life, especially considering the challenges he has faced, including the loss of his grandmother, who played a significant role in his upbringing following Ali Jeje’s passing. Your generosity and kindness have made a meaningful difference, and for that, we are deeply grateful,” Okoku stated.

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