Chief Justice Adokie – happy 60th!

Categories: Football, General, Social
Written By: Olusegun Odegbami

I have never celebrated any footballer’s birthday on this page. This would be a first and for a very special reason. It is a useful reminder of our mortality and how time flies!

Time has crept in like a thief in the dark of night. How can the CJ be 60? That’s the age people start to be referred to as ‘old’.
And CJ can never be ‘old’ in my eyes. By CJ I am referring to one of Nigeria’s most celebrated and most cerebral of footballers in the country’s history.
‘CJ’ is the acronym for ‘Chief Justice’ the nickname given to Adokie Amiesimaka by Ernest Okonkwo, the late Nigerian radio commentator whose commentaries in the 1970s and 1980s gave life to many a game and nicknames to the more celebrated amongst the players that became their eternal identities – Chairman, Mathematical, Blockbuster,Tallest, Chief Justice, and so on.

Every time I see Adokie he looks exactly the way I first saw him, almost strolling into the camp of the national team to step into the shoes left behind by Africa’s best winger at the time, Kunle Awesu, who had just emigrated to the United States after being a part of establishing Nigeria as an emerging African football power at the African Cup of Nations in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia.

Anyone that would step into Awesu’s shoes would have to have been ‘huge’, not this fine looking ‘small’ boy, an undergraduate student in the University of Lagos, who came into the national team without even the least fear of being in the company of famous legendary football, nor any fanfare to herald a new genius into the fold.

To everyone’s consternation this fledgling started to rattle, dazzle and mesmerize from day one.

Here was a player way ahead of the rest of his generation and of even the global game at that time – playing in the mid-1970s what the world has now adopted as one of the great revolutions of modern day football – a left- footed player playing on the right side of attack, and a right-footed player doing the same on the left. That’s what the world’s current best players have been doing lately and succeeding – Messi on the right, and Ronaldo and Neymar on the left.

So,let it be recorded that it started with Adokie Amiesimaka in Nigeria’s national team in 1977/78!

Adokie was right footed, but only very few people realized that because he played as a winger on Nigeria ‘s left flank. He was an absolute beauty to watch when in full flight. He was sleek, fleet footed, elegant and a master of the dribble. He would cut through defences like knife through butter, and in the process making the art of the dribble look so easy and so beautiful.
He was a thinker, never wasting any ball, always deliberately doing things with the ball that made sense to the onlooker.

I benefited from his style of play. Between us evolved a telepathic and telegraphic relationship that was not shaped by any rehearsals but through an unwritten understanding between two players on either side of the attack reading and understanding what the other wanted to do with the ball.

He would dribble down the left flank, get to the goal line, feint a cross, and then cut the ball back with his left foot to his stronger right foot, and then lift a delightful cross that will sail and soar in the air begging for connection. I often responded with a timely run that fetched us a few crucial goals.

In the national team, Adokie’s crosses were partly why I scored more goals with my head than with my feet.

For 5 years we shared the limelight of Nigerian football.

Since we left the national team decades ago our paths have continued to cross occasionally along the circuit of our different pursuits in life. Even though we also only chat occasionally, we have been friends through all the years.

Adokie turned 60 this past week and I am reminded how fast we all are ageing, with me surging a few years ahead.

I use this page to join millions of Nigerians (and, indeed, Africans) that he entertained and gave immeasurable pleasure in our days in Nigerian football, to wish him a happy 60th birthday and many more decades of useful service to the game, to his family and his country.

Congratulations, the very ‘Chief Justice’ of the Federation, High Chief Adokie Amiesimaka, Member of the Order of the NiChief Justice Adokie – happy 60th!

I have never celebrated any footballer’s birthday on this page. This would be a first and for a very special reason. It is a useful reminder of our mortality and how time flies!

Time has crept in like a thief in the dark of night. How can the CJ be 60? That’s the age people start to be referred to as ‘old’.
And CJ can never be ‘old’ in my eyes. By CJ I am referring to one of Nigeria’s most celebrated and most cerebral of footballers in the country’s history.
‘CJ’ is the acronym for ‘Chief Justice’ the nickname given to Adokie Amiesimaka by Ernest Okonkwo, the late Nigerian radio commentator whose commentaries in the 1970s and 1980s gave life to many a game and nicknames to the more celebrated amongst the players that became their eternal identities – Chairman, Mathematical, Blockbuster,Tallest, Chief Justice, and so on.

Every time I see Adokie he looks exactly the way I first saw him, almost strolling into the camp of the national team to step into the shoes left behind by Africa’s best winger at the time, Kunle Awesu, who had just emigrated to the United States after being a part of establishing Nigeria as an emerging African football power at the African Cup of Nations in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia.

Anyone that would step into Awesu’s shoes would have to have been ‘huge’, not this fine looking ‘small’ boy, an undergraduate student in the University of Lagos, who came into the national team without even the least fear of being in the company of famous legendary football, nor any fanfare to herald a new genius into the fold.

To everyone’s consternation this fledgling started to rattle, dazzle and mesmerize from day one.

Here was a player way ahead of the rest of his generation and of even the global game at that time – playing in the mid-1970s what the world has now adopted as one of the great revolutions of modern day football – a left- footed player playing on the right side of attack, and a right-footed player doing the same on the left. That’s what the world’s current best players have been doing lately and succeeding – Messi on the right, and Ronaldo and Neymar on the left.

So,let it be recorded that it started with Adokie Amiesimaka in Nigeria’s national team in 1977/78!

Adokie was right footed, but only very few people realized that because he played as a winger on Nigeria ‘s left flank. He was an absolute beauty to watch when in full flight. He was sleek, fleet footed, elegant and a master of the dribble. He would cut through defences like knife through butter, and in the process making the art of the dribble look so easy and so beautiful.
He was a thinker, never wasting any ball, always deliberately doing things with the ball that made sense to the onlooker.

I benefited from his style of play. Between us evolved a telepathic and telegraphic relationship that was not shaped by any rehearsals but through an unwritten understanding between two players on either side of the attack reading and understanding what the other wanted to do with the ball.

He would dribble down the left flank, get to the goal line, feint a cross, and then cut the ball back with his left foot to his stronger right foot, and then lift a delightful cross that will sail and soar in the air begging for connection. I often responded with a timely run that fetched us a few crucial goals.

In the national team, Adokie’s crosses were partly why I scored more goals with my head than with my feet.

For 5 years we shared the limelight of Nigerian football.

Since we left the national team decades ago our paths have continued to cross occasionally along the circuit of our different pursuits in life. Even though we also only chat occasionally, we have been friends through all the years.

Adokie turned 60 this past week and I am reminded how fast we all are ageing, with me surging a few years ahead.

I use this page to join millions of Nigerians (and, indeed, Africans) that he entertained and gave immeasurable pleasure in our days in Nigerian football, to wish him a happy 60th birthday and many more decades of useful service to the game, to his family and his country.

Congratulations, the very ‘Chief Justice’ of the Federation, High Chief Adokie Amiesimaka, Member of the Order of the Nigeria.

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