Come Wednesday July 6, it will be 25 years without Nigeria’s midfield maestro, Mudashiru Babatunde Agboluaje, mostly known as Muda Lawal.
He played for Nigeria between 1976 and 1985 and held the record of five consecutive appearances at the African Cup of Nations matched and surpassed by players like Joseph Yobo, Samuel Eto’o and Rigobert Song in the modern era.
In spite of his silky skills, it is feared that Muda Lawal’s rivals for the same midfield role were almost always struck by career-ending injuries fuelling speculations that there were unseen hands behind Lawal’s longevity and dominance.
Ademola Adesina, who joined Muda Lawal both at the IICC Shooting Stars and the national team has a different opinion.
‘‘When I got to the national team, the late Oto Gloria (Brazilian handler of Nigeria’s Green Eagles between 1979 1982) organised a meeting between Muda Lawal and myself.
‘‘Gloria said, ‘Look at this young man, I have brought him to the team not to bench you but to understudy you as a mercurial midfielder. You can’t play for Nigeria forever, show this boy the way.’’’
Adesina told Saturday Tribunesport that Muda hid nothing from him as a side-kick.
‘‘Years after he left the national team, I saw myself as another Muda in Eagles shirt,’’ Adesina recalled.
In 2003, the Confederation of African Football, CAF, recognised Muda Lawal with a post-humous award and he has a stadium named after him in Asero, Abeokuta in Ogun State.