Lawyer Richard Nwabufor Obienu, a former board member and vice president of the defunct Nigerian Football Association, has died. He died in his sleep on December 20 at his residence in Nnewi, Anambra state, according to sources.
His remains have been deposited in the morgue, pending a new announcement from the family.
The former vice president of the NFF stood out in the nation’s soccer circles, as he was once a director of the board of directors of the Rangers International Football Club in Enugu and later president of the Udoji United Football Club.
The late Obienu began his love affair with soccer at a tender age, as his late father Clement Nwofor was a renowned soccer manager in the 1960s. He led the Red Devils of Port Harcourt to win the Challenge Cup twice in 1962- 63.
The late Barrister Obienu was on the NFA board of directors between 1999 and 2002. In one of his interviews with Sports, he recalled: “Difficult time. The saddest moment of my life in football was when I left my business for six months, after having sacrificed myself. so much to help the Super Eagles qualify for Korea / Japan 2002. At the time, no one believed that Nigeria would qualify; even the board gave up because we had problems with coach Bonfrere Jo.
I told them that if we fired him Nigeria would still qualify, but they made fun of me. I told them that as long as they could name a Super Eagles coordinator, it could be done. This is how then Secretary General Tijani Yusuf told me to try it. So, I left my personal business with Amodu Shiabu, Stephen Keshi, Austin Mgbolu, and Joe Erico. We worked very hard to make sure the team qualified. “
In the end, Obienu, Shaibu Amodu, Sunday Oliseh, George Finidi and many others were not part of the Nigerian team for the Korea / Japan World Cup. The Sports Ministry made damaging changes that caused Nigeria to fail at the World Cup. It was weird.
After serving on the NFA board, Late Obienu retired to his business. His battles with his personal health have lasted for some time. In 2014 she survived two brain surgeries and has led a quiet life ever since. But he always showed concern for Nigerian football.