It was celebration galore at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City on Friday, August 12, 2022, as Edo State Deputy Governor, Rt Hon. Comrade Philip Shaibu announced his retirement from active football after leading the newly promoted Nigeria Professional Football League side, Bendel Insurance FC in their last match of the Nigeria National League (NNL) against Vandrezzer Football Club of Lagos, on a glamorous note.
Tanimu Benjamin’s 45th-minute goal from the penalty mark gave the 1973 Nigerian league champions a slim victory against a well-anchored Vandrezzer FC led by Yemi Olanrewaju to end their successful and productive Nigeria National League season.
Shaibu has been a Bendel Insurance player since 2016, contributing to the team’s promotion in the 2018/2019 season and staying on and playing with the team since they went back to relegation.
The half-time of the match saw some fireworks moments as enough glamour filled the atmosphere when Philip Shaibu celebrated his retirement from active football with forty quality balls shared with the fans, throwing the atmosphere into a frenzy as the excited fans registered their merry mind.
At full time, it was celebration galore for the team as players, officials, backroom staff and political allies all filled the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium pitch to display a huge banner with a big inscription of the team’s arrival in the NPFL for the 2022/2023 season.
Philip Shaibu registered for the 2021/2022 NNL season to keep his playing status. Though he could only play the first thirty minutes of the last game of the season in a glamorous fashion, his dressing room support was a huge factor for the success of the 1973 Nigeria Football League winners.
At the post-match conference, Philip Shaibu recounted how the journey back to the NPFL had been, and appreciated the Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki for his immense support, and the management of the NNL for standing firm and staying focused on the assignment given to them.
“Today, we thank God that we are in the NPFL and we want to thank the coach – Monday Odigie and the players.”
“I never settled for less because I know that we can do better. The Edo State government is not in sports to make money, but we are in sports to change the narrative. We started with the facilities’ facelift, and we shifted attention to building capacity.
“Many had doubted us that we couldn’t sustain what we started, but so far, we have disappointed them, and we will keep doing that as we belong to the league of the best.
“We belong to NPFL and that’s where we will be. We will do everything to make sure that the momentum is sustained.
“I’m leaving without injury, and we won our last match. I’m happy for that,” he said.
The former Water Corporation FC of Akure midfielder pleaded with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and the Ministry of Sports to help the NNL to become the real engine room of the Nigerian men’s football league.
“The only way the NNL can be strong and be the engine room of Nigerian football is if the NFF and the Ministry of Youths and Sports put their eyes down and do all to support them in gaining sponsorships so that there won’t be issues of owing referees their entitlements; but for us, we will continue to support the NNL to the best of our ability.
“The next target is continental for the team now and we will continue to support the team to achieve that.
“To our sponsors – Sterling Bank, we want to thank you for trusting in our team and we both have achieved the aim – we have achieved our target and we hope they will now fulfil their promise of tripling the contract we signed last time.”
Shaibu ended his speech by recalling the different teams he played for actively.
“For record purposes, aside from playing for the UNIJOS school team in my tertiary education days, I played at the NISFON U-20 tournament where we got to the quarterfinals, I played for the Foreign Affairs FC, the defunct Water Corporation FC renamed Ijesha United of Akure and the Nigeria Prison Service FC,” he narrated.