Lagos – The Nigerian football family was thrown into mourning on Wednesday following the death of Austin Mgbolu, former spokesperson of the former Nigeria Football Association. Mgbolu, a former sports analyst and writer, who worked with the defunct Sportlink, among other media organisations, died in the early hours of Wednesday, February 7.
He passed on in his Abuja home in the early hours of Wednesday but the major cause of the death was very sketchy. According to media reports, Mgbolu had been recently sick and was reported to have undergone major surgery in January. He appeared to have regained good health but later died after he was reportedly rushed to the hospital in that early morning following what was perhaps a complication from the surgery.
Since the death that Wednesday morning, tributes have continued to pour in for the late journalist. According to Mohammed Sanusi, the NFF secretary general, the deceased was a thoroughbred professional, who was not found wanting in his lifetime.
“He was a thorough professional who did his job to the best of his ability and even as an analyst on television; he was forthright and provided wise counsel for the advancement of the Nigeria game. We pray that God will grant him eternal rest.”
Mgbolu’s time at the Nigerian football house spanned more than a decade. He superintended the public relations department of the then NFA during Nigeria’s glorious era and served five NFA/NFF presidents. He was the PRO during the time of late Samson Emeka Omeruah as the NFA president between 1993 and 1997.
He also served under Abdulmumuni Aminu between 1997 and 1999, even as he was there during the short period of Anthony Kojo Williams in 1999 before serving Dominic Oneya between 1999 and 2000. His last duty as the spokesperson of the football house was during the time of Ibrahim Galadima between 2002 and 2006.
It will be recalled that due to Mgbolu’s kindness and willingness to assist sportswriters in the course of their jobs, the pen pushers in the sports industry nicknamed him ‘Booster’. It has been reported that his assistance to upcoming sports writers was legendary.
According to his contemporaries while he was alive, one of the things the seasoned journalist would be remembered for was his constant criticism of things that tended to rubbish the image of the game in the country. One of such occasions was when he hit out at Tom Sainthfeith, a Belgian coach, for applying to coach the Super Eagles after he insulted Nigeria during the time of Stephen Keshi as Super Eagles coach. Then, Sainthfeith was the coach of Malawi.
His contributions to the development of Nigerian football went even beyond his time as the NFA PRO. Even after leaving office, Mgbolu was a regular feature on televisions where he helped to chart a course for the nation’s football. He attended conferences and seminar all in the bid to better Nigerian football. He is survived by family and friends.