“It is more painful that he left just when help was coming to him from everywhere and the process was on to rectify his medical condition. We loved him but God loves him more. May his soul rest in peace.”
Lithe, versatile, unclamorous and ever-alert, Yisa Sofoluwe first wore Nigeria’s colours during the qualifying series for the 1983 FIFA World Youth Championship (now FIFA U20 World Cup) in Mexico. He was a key figure in that squad that became the first Nigeria team to feature at a FIFA-organised championship. The Flying Eagles defeated old Soviet Union, lost to Brazil and drew with The Netherlands, narrowly failing to make the knockout stage.
The same year, he won his first senior cap, in a 1984 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against Morocco in Benin City, which ended scorelessly. The return leg in Rabat also ended scorelessly, but Nigeria triumphed 4-3 after a penalty shootout to qualify for Cote d’Ivoire ’84.
Sofoluwe played a notable role in the Green Eagles squad that finished as runner-up in Cote d’Ivoire, winning Nigeria’s first silver medal at the AFCON, and was also a force in the team that repeated the feat in Morocco four years later. He won a total of 40 caps for the Nigeria senior team, scoring one goal – in a 1986 World Cup qualifying match against Kenya in Lagos on April 20, 1985, that Nigeria won 3-1.
The hardworking defender played his club football for ITT FC, Abiola Babes FC, Shooting Stars FC and Gateway FC.
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