The Nigerian football community is in mourning following the demise of Godwin Izilein, a revered figure in Nigerian football coaching circles. The former international footballer and accomplished coach passed away on Wednesday in Benin City, the capital of Edo State, at the age of 81.
Godwin Izilein’s illustrious coaching career left an indelible mark on Nigerian football. Notably, he led the Super Falcons to victory in the 2004 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) held in Johannesburg. His coaching prowess also extended to the Golden Eaglets, whom he guided at the African U-17 Championship in 2005.
According to a member of the Izilein family who spoke on condition of anonymity, Izilein succumbed to health complications related to abdominal issues while receiving treatment at a hospital in Benin City.
Kehinde Osagiede, the Media Officer of Edo State-owned Bendel Insurance, confirmed Izilein’s passing, highlighting his significant contributions to Nigerian football. Osagiede described Izilein as a former coach of Bendel Insurance who dedicated himself to nurturing football talents, both male and female, across the nation.
Izilein’s coaching legacy was not without controversy. Despite his successes, he found himself embroiled in disputes with football authorities. Following the Falcons’ triumph in South Africa in 2004, tensions arose between the players and football officials over unpaid allowances. Izilein, alleged by some officials to have influenced the players’ actions, faced repercussions, including unpaid entitlements of $12,000.
In an impassioned plea for justice, Izilein expressed his disappointment over the unpaid allowances, lamenting the lack of acknowledgment from the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) despite years of outstanding debts. His unwavering commitment to his players and his dedication to the sport underscored his character as a coach and mentor.
Beyond his national team duties, Izilein also made significant contributions at the club level, managing local sides such as NNB FC and Bendel Insurance.
As Nigeria bids farewell to one of its football icons, Godwin Izilein’s legacy as a coach, mentor, and advocate for footballers’ rights will be remembered and cherished by generations of players and football enthusiasts alike.