Chibuzor Nwakanma came to India in the early 80s as a student and later played for the big three clubs in Kolkata as a forward.
The Nigerian forward, Chibuzor Nwakanma, simply known as Chibuzor became a household name in the 1980s for his tremendous speed and a predatory instinct for goals. He turned out for all the three big clubs of Kolkata – Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting in a career spanning more than a decade.
In the second half of the 1980s and the early 1990s, Kolkata Football was dominated by three Nigerians – Chima Okorie, Emeka Ezeugo, and Chibuzor. On the advice of his friend Chima Okorie, Chibuzor joined East Bengal in 1986 and soon became a hit for his match-winning ability. Subsequently, he went on to play for Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting.
He and midfielder Emeka made a devastating combination that saw Mohammedan Sporting win the Bordoloi Cup and the Kalinga Cup and reach the final of the Rovers Cup and the Sikkim Gold Cup in 1991. He hung his boots in 1998 after a brief stint with Goa’s Churchill Brothers. After retiring, he went back to Nigeria where he became a priest and used football as a means to reform the youth who drifted into crime.
His sudden death due to heart attack at his residence in Aba, Nigeria, cast a pall of sorrow among Football fans in Kolkata, who continued to remember Chibuzor as a jovial person who was always a centre of attraction in the dressing room. He was 57 at the time of his death.
A heartbroken Emeka Ezeogo posted on social media, “Indian football has lost an icon. I’m still in shock and incapable of discussing this. We were more than family. He was more than a brother to me. I’m crying without tears. We’ve come a long way. It’s an understatement to say that I’m devastated. Rest Peacefully, Chibuuuu.”