Sunday, January 1, 2023 6:02 pm
When Pele, the football legend died, the whole world celebrated him. It proved right Calpurnia’s statement in William Shakespare’ a Julius Caesar that when beggars die, “there are no comets seen; the heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.”
Peter Fregene, The Flying Cat for style, erstwhile National team goalkeeper, 1966-1983, is neither a beggar nor a dead man. With what he did for Nigeria, he should be treated as a prince. He deserves real attention.
Born in Sapele, Fregene played club football for Lagos rivals ECN and Stationery Stores F.C. during a career that spanned the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. According to Segun Odegbami, in his piece, “50 greatest footballers in 50 years of Nigerian football”, published in Super Sport, 8 October 2010), Fregene won the Nigerian FA Cup with both ECN and Stationery Stores.
As Dudu Orumen, put it in an essay, “Where have super goalkeepers gone?”, published in The Nation Online on 19 May 2007, ” Fregene was the first choice goalkeeper for the Nigeria national football team from 1968 to 1971, before being recalled for the 1982 African Cup of Nations finals. He also represented Nigeria at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.