Our reporter, Uche Enem with former Rangers captain, Jude Agada in Enugu.
In this edition, we will be revisiting the life of another sports hero, Jude Agada, as well as taking a peep at his exploits for the National Team, the Super Eagles, and Rangers International of Enugu, a team he prominently featured for and even captained in the 80s. Born in Enugu State, Agada hails from Awka Etiti in Idemili South Local Government of Anambra State. I hope you will enjoy reading this piece.
May we know you?
My name is Jude Tagbo Agada. I was born in October 22nd, 1961, in Enugu State. I hail from Awka Etiti in Idemili South LGA of Anambra State. I attended St. Michael's Primary School, Enugu, and had my Secondary education at St. Joseph's Catholic School, Awka Etiti.
How did your sports life begin?
I was so much in love with sports while growing up. I started playing for St. Michael's Primary School and I participated in the match between Asata and Coal Camp at the Enugu Stadium in 1975. During my secondary school days, I played for the junior team at St. Joseph's, Awka Etiti. When I was in class five, I was made the Games Prefect and also made to be the captain of our football team in 1980.
We played a lot of matches and we were able to carry the Idemili Cup for all the secondary schools in Idemili. After my secondary school, my mum insisted that I should come back to Enugu State to stay with her and to get myself familiar with some places in Enugu and to stop playing football. The day I got an interview at the cabinet office in Enugu, that was the same day Housing Corporation offered me a job in 1982 to play for them and work for them. So I played just for a year for Housing Corporation and then Proda FC came for me and offered me an appointment to grade level 06. So I had to leave Housing Corporation where I was in level 04 and accepted the Proda FC offer. After a year in Proda, 1983, we were able to beat Vasco da Gama FC in the Challenge Cup semi-finals to meet Rangers International in the finals.
In November 1983, we played with Rangers and they beat us. Rangers got interested in my game and offered me a job and I moved from Proda FC to Rangers. In Nigeria, once you win the National League, you could play outside the country, precisely in Africa. Rangers carried the cup in 1984 which was the same year I joined and we played on the continent with other teams. I can also remember the match we played against Angola.
I joined the National Team (Super Eagles) in 1987 and quit in 1990. During the three years of my stay in the National Team, I was a member of the National Team to the Seoul Olympics in South Korea in 1988. We also played with the Zimbabwean team in Harare in one of the qualifying matches of the Nations Cup in 1989. I was the one who scored the goal that equalized for Nigeria against the Zimbabwean team.
I went for a coaching course in 2007 at NIS, Lagos, for basic coaching certificate. Early this year, around March, I went for CAF B license coaching course.
Tony Ukachi (right) talking to Jude Agada and the CEO of Rojenny, Oba, Chief Rommy Ezeonwuka, standing in Agada's immediate right.
What position did you play in the field?
In Proda, I played central defence but later when I played for Rangers, I was moved by Christian Chukwu who coached us in 1984 to the left full back. So I usually shuffle between central defence and left full back.
Can you share some of your experiences in Rangers?
I played for Rangers for six years from1984 to 1990. After 1984, my friend, Ikechukwu Ofoje, who was the captain of Rangers then, got a scholarship to USA and I took over the captaincy of Rangers in 1986. During my stay in Rangers, I played in every game. I got injured in an FA Cup match in Bauchi with El-kanemi in 1990. The injury was between me and Garba Manu (the present U-17 Coach). Because of my injury, I was sent back to the office. Actually, I thought it was a minor injury at first but after running some tests, it was discovered that I had internal bleeding and other issues. This injury made me to stay in my house for three months but unfortunately, the managers of Rangers didn't deem if fit to see me or visit me during my three months recuperation from the injury. It was only the then Coach, the late Mathias Obianika, that visited me once. When I was recovering, the then chairman of Rangers, the late Ben Ossy Umunna, in 1990, wrote a letter indicating that I would be working at the Sports Council because of the injury I incurred. Also the injury made me not to participate in the game that was played against Stationery Stores of Lagos in 1990. We lost the game.
Later on, Oscar Udoji was on the verge of forming his own team, Udoji United. He took some players from Rangers. I tried to see if he could sign me but he refused till I went with my friend, the late Albert Anijekwu. Albert spoke on my behalf which made them to sign me. So I started playing for Udoji United in 1991. I played for Udoji for nine years. Between 1995- 2000, I was the captain of the team. We were able to lift the League in 1996. Later, we participated in the African Cup of Champions but we couldn't get past the quarter finals because of what happened in Algeria. At Algeria, we were robbed by the referees because of unfair judgment and actions on the field which made us to suspect that they collected bribe. The referees gave our opponent many advantages to the extent that we lost the game.
In 1988, we had a serious problem which led to our relegation to the second division. Fortunately for us, we didn't separate so we played and we were able to enter the Premiership in 1999. In 2000, I had to quit active football. So my active football was 16 years which lasted between 1984 and 2000.
You retired from active football in 2000; was it because you were weak or because of your injury?
In Nigeria when you play for so long, a day will come when you will be asked to retire whether, you like it or not, because they will feel that you have been around for too long and sometimes you may be forced to quit. I also had to quit because I wanted to be in the coaching crew. My friend who owns River Lane Academy called me in 2015 to begin to handle the academy because the people who handled it before didn't do it professionally. So I started coaching from 2001-2006 with River Lane Academy. In 2015, I started handling some other youth clubs. I was handling SKB Football Club between 2007 and 2014 as a coach.
During my time as the coach, we were able to raise a lot of players like Chinedu Ogbuke Obasi who played for Nigeria at the World cup in South Africa; Solomon Okoronkwo, who also played for the national team and Premier League and many other talented players we have raised. These were the first set of River Lane Academy players I coached during 2002. We pick these players at a tender age and keep coaching them till they are mature to play professionally.
In 2004, we produced another good international player like Ebuka Onovo who presently plays football in Norway. Also, Chikeluba Ofoedu, who was once a top player in the Nigerian league but now he is playing in Turkey. We also have Emeka Eze who played for Rangers but he in Egypt now; and many others who are doing well today.
What inspired you to go into football?
I don't think anything inspired me to go into football, though my dad was a footballer, sometimes taking me along to watch some matches in the 70s. However, that was not what inspired me; I just love football and I love watching football.
Do you have some fulfilling moments?
The moments I cherish often come from my family, friends and fans that come around to watch me play and see me doing well in the field. There is nothing as sweet as a good game and good football. Many people who come to watch us play came to reduce their blood pressure because football is more of relaxation and entertainment.
Do you have some moments you remember that are challenging
Sometimes, we feel bad, especially in the way we are discarded just because of injury. This sometimes discourages players from playing for their country. And because of this, we don't give our best in matches. We don't take the risk anymore and that's why we don't have footballers who are loyal, irrespective of the fact that we have many players who have died for Nigeria too.
What year did you get married?
I got married in 1999. In 1995, I did the bride price and in 1997 I did the wine carrying and didn't do the wedding because of financial constraints. Then, in 1999 I got married.
Your marriage was one year to your retirement in active sports, so, how were you able to cope with your sports life and family responsibilities?
Well, they didn't clash, neither did it affect my sports life or my family life. My wife knew it was my life and what I loved doing. My football experience helped me in coaching. When I went to the National Institute for Sports (NIS), I realized that there was a big difference between playing football and coaching football, especially in the developmental stage. I became conversant with the process of reading the game, analysing it and making observations.
How many children are you blessed with?
I am blessed with three children now, although I lost one at birth
Are any of your children interested in sports?
No, I haven't seen such interest in them yet
What course would you have studied in the University if given the opportunity?
While growing up, I was so much engrossed with studying Law. My mum didn't like me studying Law because of the way she believed they were buried after death. Lawyers, she believed, were buried face down.
As an insider in Nigeria's sports, do you think that things can improve?
It is about what is happening in sports today. By now, Nigeria is supposed to have attained a greater height in football. Nigeria's sports has become a shambles in every angle. We are not organized and our structure and leaders are not also organized. This is why it is only when a competition is about to begin that we start to get prepared. Players are supposed to be subjected to training every time. South Africa, Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana leagues are far better than ours. We have talents around us but we lack good administrators and top managers to spur these talented people.
What happens in football is the same thing that happens to our lives. We have many mediocre people and many unskilled hands as directors, administrators and coaches, who are going into sports. Most of these people are not interested in the development of the players. They occupy the position and do not place the concern of the players as their priority. They do things for their personal and selfish interests. All these affect us our sports.
Well, with the way sports is moving in the country, I do not visualize a vast improvement even in five years' time. If there is going to be an improvement then the government also will have to provide sports facilities to improve sports. Some of the facilities are closed down and if they are not there, it is impossible to train them. If Anambra needs to develop in sports, they must have a functional stadium and put the track and field and make other areas active. Many of our indigenes are outside Anambra bringing honours to their various adopted states. The very reason why most of them left for other state is mainly because we lack training facilities down here. The FIFA goal project that is in Nigeria is the type that is supposed to be in Anambra but our people didn't provide for land that will be used to accommodate the project.
'If we could become equipped, we could be functional in most of these sports competitions and festivals. The one at Onitsha is an eye sore and the one at Awka has been abandoned. They start up a project and they do not finish it before they leave their seat.
Where do you think Nigerian players' loyalty lies?
Their loyalty lies in the money they are pursuing and not the fame. This is why many young talented players have not reached their peak in football because they allow money to drive them crazy and to disturb them.
What's your favourite colour?
I love red
What your favourite meal?
As a typical Anambra man, I love Ora soup and Onugbo soup with foofoo.
What's your most memorable match?
I can't remember any of my memorable matches because I approach each of them the same way. One of the toughest matches I played was in 1984 against Leventis United which was played at the National Stadium. We lost the match but our fans were very happy with us because we played well. This was my first real tough match for Rangers. Leventis United were the winners of the FA Cup, while Rangers were the champions of the National League which was called the Charity Cup then.
What/who do you give credit to in your sports life?
I was in school at St. Joseph's Awka Etiti, in the 1900s when Rangers were playing their continental matches. It was the period the television started showing matches. At that time, we crowded the room of our vice principal to watch Rangers matches. Watching Rangers team then inspired me to an extent, even though I didn't know I would end up playing for them. I remember names like the late Ogidi Ibeabuchi, Mathias Obianika, Dominic Ezeani, Dominic Nwobodo and later Christian Chukwu.
Apart from sports what else do you like doing?
I loved reading novels, especially Adichie's novels, and many others while growing up, but now my reading habit has reduced. I play table tennis and I like hanging around with friends, as well as doing many other relaxation exercises that I do to make myself happy.
Thank You for your time.