Ex-Nigeria international Shittu passes on

Shittu, who was called 'The Bulldozer' in his playing days, was one of the greatest players to come out of Nigeria.

Born in 1937 in Jos, Plateau State of Yoruba parentage, Shittu began his career with Plateau and Northern Region XI.

He got his first international call-up to the then Red Devils in 1959, alongside great talents like Teslim Balogun, Dejo Fayemi, Olu Onagoruwa, Jide Johnson, Monday Sinclair, Cyril Nwajei, Godwin Etemeke, Asuquo Ekpe and Peter Amaechina.

Such was the talent in the squad that he only made his debut a year later, on 10 September 1960, when he played in Nigeria’s 2-2 draw against Ghana in a World Cup qualifier. He scored his first international goal in Nigeria’s 4-1 victory against Port Guinea, now Guinea Bissau in October 1960.

Shittu scored the only goal in an Olympic qualifier in Nigeria against Sudan on 5 November 1967, and also scored two goals in the reverse fixture on 17 November in Khartoum.

He was also a member of the Green Eagles squad that played against the visiting German Olympic team in 1971 at Onikan Stadium, Lagos.

At club level, Shittu was in the team that won the FA Cup for the Western Region in 1961 when he became the first player to score an FA Cup final goal outside of Onikan Stadium in the 1961 decider between his team and UAC, Broad Street Millionaires, at the Old National Stadium, the site of the present National Stadium.

Shittu’s greatest moment was in 1970 when he propelled ECN (NEPA) to their third F.A Cup title against his former club, Highlanders of Jos. The game had ended 1-1 apiece before Shittu, a coach/player, came on to rescue his team by scoring the winning goal for ECN.

He is survived by three children.