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Nigerians In History: Teslim Balogun


Teslim Balogun is the popular name of Tesilimi Olawale Balogun, a Nigerian footballer that played between the 1940s and 1960s. His date of birth is put around 1927 and place of birth, Nigeria.

Teslim Balogun was not only regarded as Nigerian football player but also a pioneer coach. Balogun played at both professional and international levels as a striker, before becoming Africa’s first qualified professional football coach.

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Playing Career and Coaching Career

Educated in Port Harcourt and graduated from St. Mary’s Catholic School, Balogun played in his native Nigeria for a number of teams, including Apapa Bombers, Marine Athletics, UAC XI, Railways XI, Jos XI, Pan Bank Team, Dynamos Club and SCOA XI. During his time in Nigeria, Balogun won the Challenge Cup a total of five times in seven finals. He was the first player to have a hat-trick in the competition, in Pan Bank’s 6-1 rout of Warri in 1953.

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After originally touring with a Nigerian select team in 1949, Balogun returned to the UK in August 1955 to sign with Peterborough United. However, Balogun never made a league appearance for Peterborough, and spent time with Skegness Town before signing with Queens Park Rangers, scoring 3 goals in 13 appearances in the Football League during the 1956–57 season. After leaving QPR, Balogun returned to non-League football, playing with Holbeach United.

Balogun became the first African to qualify as a professional coach. He was a coach for Nigeria at the 1968 Summer Olympics.

The Popular Teslim Balogun Stadium: The Legacy

The Teslim Balogun Stadium in the Nigerian city of Lagos is named in his honour. The Teslim Balogun Foundation was founded after his death to assist the families of Nigerian ex-international footballers who may have fallen on hard times.

The Teslim Balogun Stadium is a multi-use stadium in Surulere, Lagos, Nigeria. It is used mostly for football matches and serves as a home ground of First Bank F.C.. The Nigeria national rugby league team also use the venue. The stadium has a capacity of 24,325 people,and is sometimes used for international football matches. It once served as the venue for the Nigerian FA Cup final, just before it hosted some matches in the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup youth tournament held in Nigeria. Most Nigerian stadiums allow more people in the stadium than the official capacity allows, which often decreases comfort. It sits adjacent to the Lagos National Stadium.

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Started in 1984 under the administration of military governor Gbolahan Mudasiru, construction continually stalled under military regimes and the stadium became a white elephant. By the time the stadium was completed in 2007, it had taken 23 years to build and cost over N1.3 billion.

The first event held in the stadium was the 18th Mobil Track and Field Athletics Championship on 17 May. The first football game was a friendly on 28 May between Enyimba vs. Asante Kotoko. The stadium also hosted the Nigeria Premier League Super Four playoff that season and the Nigerian FA Cup final in 2007. The final of the 2009 Federation Cup between Enyimba and Sharks was held at the stadium.

Other Facts

Balogun was nicknamed “Thunder” because of his powerful shot, and was also known as “Balinga” for a similar reason. During his time touring schools to coach youngstars, he was nicknamed “Baba Ball.”

Balogun was also a member of the Nigerian national side for 12 years. Balogun died in his sleep on 30 July 1972, at the age of 45. He had eight children.



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Jeremiah Aluwong

Jeremiah is a scholar and a poet. He has a keen eye for studying the world and is passionate about people. He tweets at @jeremiahaluwong.

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