Adepoju Mutiu

Mutiu Adepoju in action
13 Feb 2000: Mutiu Adepoju of Nigeria in action during the African Nations Cup Final against Cameroon played at The National stadium in Lagos, Nigeria . The match finished 2-2 (3-4 on penalties). Mandatory Credit: Ben Radford /Allsport

Mutiu Adepoju; Super Eagles’ midfielder and a member of Nigeria ‘Golden Generation’ of the 1990s, with a career from being a player in the Spanish La Liga to being inducted as one of its ambassadors. Adepoju started his professional adventure at Real Madrid. He is called “headmaster” for his proficiency at scorinng goals with headers in his heydeys. At the start of his career in Spain, Adepoju and for some years was at the Real Madrid B Team and he was in the La Liga for almost twenty years. Adepoju was part of Nigeria’s Flying Eagles at the World Cup in Saudi Arabia, 1989. He was among the generation of players that qualified Nigeria for the World Cup for the first time; he was part of the team that won the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in 1994 in Tunisia; and he played also at the France’98 World Cup, his Nigerian team beating Spain which is an adopted country for him in the opening match. Adepoju represented Nigeria at the World Cup in 2002.

Adepoju has a rich profile and spent seven years in the Spanish top division where he featured in a total of 175 games and scored 22 goals playing mainly for Racing de Santander and Real Sociedad. As widely reported, Adepoju actually had an impressive first professional season as he scored 11 league goals to help Racing de Santander return to La Liga and represented the club for three seasons. He later joined Real Sociedad for the 1996-97 campaign and left for Saudi Arabia’s Ittihad FC in 2001-02. He later returned to Spain where he featured, rarely, for second level club UD Salamanca.

At the international level, Adepoju was one of the longest-serving players in the national team and was capped 48 times by the Super Eagles scoring six goals. He made his debut against Togo in August 1990 and became a regular fixture at the 1992 Africa Cup of Nations in Senegal where the Super Eagles won the bronze medal. Two years later, he struck gold with the Super Eagles at the next continental edition in Tunisia. He was part of the squads for the FIF A World Cups in 1994(USA), 1998 (FRANCE) – where he scored in a 3-2 win against Spain as well as the 2002 co-hosted by Korea & Japan.

Since his retirement, Adepoju has concentrated on the administrative aspect of the game despite being a proud holder of the UEFA Pro-Licence Coaching Certificate and has served at Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) as well as the Kwara Football Academy. He was named Country Manager, La Liga Nigeria office in September, 2016[i].

[i] Nation December 26, 2016

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer