- Wahab Adesina
Wahab Adesina might not be a familiar name to you if you were born in the 1990s or later years but for those who grew up in Otukpo in the 1980s; the name would definitely ring a bell. Wahab aka YB is the guy who put Otukpo on the sporting map with his exploits on the national football scene, so much that the late Peter Ogaba, of the Golden Eaglet fame, described him as his sporting hero in 2012.
Born Abdulwahab Adio Adesina on 11th November 1960 to Sanusi Alamu Adesina (who settled in Otukpo from Osogbo) and his wife, Alache Okopi Adesina (from Obaganya Otukpo), Wahab grew up in a happy home with 4 brothers and 3 sisters. He attended Norcross Central Primary School, Otukpo; Ansaw Ur Deen Primary School, Jos; Commonwealth College of Commerce, Jos and Government Secondary School (GSS) Otukpo where he completed his secondary education in 1981.
Right from an early age, street football was a big attraction for Wahab so much that his mum always had a hard time keeping him from his bellowed football. As a member of “Touch & See” and Flamingos youth football teams in Otukpo, he started showing promise as a defensive player.
While at GSS Otukpo, Wahab literally took the school to the top spot during All Secondary Schools Games football competition in the town and in no time was attracting the attention of Benue State sports officials He represented Benue State at the 1978 National School Sports in Calabar, the 1979 National Sports Festival in Ibadan and the 1981 National Sports Festival in Benin.
While still in school, Wahab played for Obe Babes FC, Otukpo and his was the star of many matches against NEPA FC Otukpo. Upon completion of his secondary education in 1981, Wahab chose to sign for Niger Tornadoes of Minna and this choice was rewarded as he helped his new club reach the 1982 Challenge Cup final where they lost to Stationery Stores of Lagos.
His performance with Niger Tornadoes got him a call-up to the National Youth team known as the Flying Eagles in 1982 and the team went on to win the Shagari Cup in 1983. Wahab made the final 18-man squad to the 1983 FIFA World Youth Championship in Mexico where he played 2 matches in the group stage against the Soviet Union and eventual champions Brazil, thereby rubbing shoulders with future footballing greats like Bebeto and Dunga. His appearance at Mexico '83 made him the first person from Otukpo to feature in a FIFA World Cup.
On return from Mexico, Wahab joined the Division One side, Abiola Babes of Abeokuta and again played a big role in the run to the 1984 Challenge Cup final where they narrowly lost to Leventis United of Ibadan. Abiola Babes with Wahab bounced back in 1985 and lifted the Challenge Cup after defeating BCC Lions of Gboko on penalties thereby setting another record as the first person from Otukpo to win Nigeria's premier club cup competition.
During this period, Wahab was in the Green Eagles squad and though he did not make the final squad that went to the 1984 African Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast, he was part of the Green Eagles team that narrowly missed out on qualifying for the 1986 African Cup of Nations and the 1986 FIFA World Cup.
Unfortunately, Wahab never fully replicated his Flying Eagles form in the shirts of the Green Eagles due to injuries, like when he picked up a calf injury in a World Cup qualifier match against Liberia in Monrovia on 4th November 1984 and had to be substituted after 32 minutes. And when he was fully fit, he found his chances of regular first team selection with the Green Eagles limited due to the solid defensive partnership of Sunday Eboigbe and Andrew Uwe but whenever he did play, Wahab displayed the type of brilliance in defence that made him the darling of Otukpo town.
In 1986, Wahab signed for the best club in Nigeria then, Leventis United and alongside great names such as Edward Ansah, Friday Ekpo, Leotis Boateng, James Etokebe, Uwem Ekarika, Wole Odegbami and Sam Pam; they swept aside all teams before them by winning the double, Division One title and Challenge Cup, in 1986.
Following the disbandment of Leventis United in 1988, Wahab moved to Julius Berger of Lagos before joining another big name club, 3SC of Ibadan in 1990. He then left 3SC in 1991 and signed for Concord FC of Abeokuta where he remained until 1996 when injuries forced him to retire from football.
On retiring from the beautiful game, he relocated to Dublin, Ireland where he has settled with his pretty wife and children. Wahab aka YB remains an icon of Idoma Land for all the sporting joys he brought into the living rooms of homes in Otukpo and for inspiring a generation.
- I had no club when I got national team call – Ogaba, NBF General Topic. Available from http://www.nigerianbestforum.com/generaltopics/i-had-no-club-when-i-got-national-team-call-ogaba/ [Accessed 24 March 2018]
- 1983 FIFA World Youth Championship squads, Wikipedia. Available from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1983_FIFA_World_Youth_Championship_squads#_Nigeria [Accessed 24 March 2018]
- Nigeria - Details of World Cup Matches, RSSSF. Available from http://www.rsssf.com/tablesn/nig-intres-detwcq.html [Accessed 24 March 2018]