Ex Rangers Players, Anambra Community Mourn ‘Bulldozer’ Nwankwo
Enugu-Ukwu Community in Njikoka Local Government of Anambra and some Ex Rangers International of Enugu have expressed deep shock over the demise of Nwabueze Nwankwo, a foundation member of the team.
Nwabueze was a member of the pioneer players of Rangers FC at formation after the Nigerian Biafran civil war in 1970.
Others members of pioneer Rangers International FC of Enugu team Cyril Okosieme (late) John ‘Weeler’ Nwosu(late), Ernest Ufele(late), Peter Okeke, Godwin Achebe(late) Luke Okpala ‘Jaz Bukana’ (late), Sam. Nwachukwu (late) and Kenneth Abanah(Magician).
Others were Dominic Nwaobodo ‘Alhaji’ , Mathias Obianika ‘Wonder Boy’ (late), Chukwuma Egwunwu (late), Shedrac Ajero ‘Nana’ (late) and Godwin Adimachukwu.
On the reserve were Emmanuel Okala, Emmanue Ojirika, Teddy Anikputa, Godwin Nwosa (late) and Sam. Okoh.
Only about six of the pioneer team members are still alive today a source revealed.
Bonny Nkwuaku, President General of Enugu said the community had lost a pillar and was in deep shock following the news if his death.
Nkwuaku said Nwabueze died on Thursday after a protracted ailment.
He described the fallen player as an illustrious son of Enugu-Ukwu and community builder who had interest in youth development.
“His death came to us as a big blow, we are still in shock because Nwabueze Nwankwo was one of our ambassadors.
“Just two years ago, Enugu-Ukwu honoured ‘bulldozer’ and few others for their contributions to community development and two weeks ago, he was in church for a thanksgiving, we did not know that would the last, “ he said.
Nkwuaku called on Federal and State Governments to pay attention to the health needs of surviving earliest generation of players adding that they did not play for money in time but for passion and to make people happy.
Enugu-Ukwu community would be involved in burial programme as Nwabueze did belong to his family but the entire state and nation.
Kenneth Abanah who was started Rangers International with Nwankwo in 1970 said he was devastated by the news of his death.
Abanah popularly called ‘Magician’ said he had maintained close contact with Nwankwo as a colleague and a brother from a neighbouring community.
He described Bulldozer as a strong player who had strong passion for Rangers and gave the Enugu based team and national team all he had during his active days.
He said he had similar hip and leg ailment which Nwankwo suffered until his death and called on government to come to the aid of surviving former players.
“I spoke with his son and daughter on Thursday and after 10 minutes they called to tell me that their father was no more, I have been disorganised and just managing to get myself together.
“It is painful that those who were with me on this journey are leaving one after the other, Bulldozer was a great and strong player as I am talking to you I am starring at a picture I took with him long time ago.
“The hip challenges that led his death is the type that has almost paralysed my two legs now, we need hell to stay alive.
“I thank the government of Anambra for the assistant they gave me two years ago, that really help a great deal but the I am still down, “ he said.
Harrison Okagbue, another teammate of Nwankwo said the Nigerian football community had lost a great man and that he was personally pained by the development.
Okagbue who was former coach of Cranes of Uganda said he Nwankwo introduced ‘long throw in’ in football which gave his team advantage over their opponents because of his physical strength.
He said he started with Nwankwo in Rangers in 1970 but left for B-Lions of Calabar and Sharks of Port Harcourt before joining him in Rangers again in 1976.
“His death hit me hard, he was a great colleague. He started his football in Abakaliki and later became a foundation member of Rangers where he played almost all the games.
“Bulldozer was a strong man, if your leg come in contact with leg, you will know you hit your fellow man, his strength is what gave him that name Bulldozer.
“It was Nwankwo who introduce long throw in in football, he was able to throw ball from centre field into the six yard box after retirement he suffered eye problem and that weakened him.
“He had great passion for the Rangers Brand and football generally, we will miss him,” he said.
Arthur Ebunam, Chairman of Ex Rangers International Footballers Association, Anambra chapter said the death of Nwankwo was a great shock to them.
Ebunam said he was a strong defender whom players of his generation looked up to as a model.
He said the Rangers family identified with Nwankwo family at this time of grief and prayed for the repose of his soul.