Tesilim Akanni Balogun was a footballer, printer, newspaper columnist, and coach.
“Thunder” Balogun is the most mythologized Nigerian athlete.
Many of Balogun’s footballing exploits have been retold so often as to become urban legends.
Educated in Port Harcourt and graduating from St. Mary’s Catholic School.
Balogun played in his native Nigeria for a number of teams, including Apapa Bombers, Marine Athletics, UAC XI, Railways XI, Jos XI, Pan Bank Team, Dynamos Club and SCOA XI During his time in Nigeria, Balogun won the Challenge Cup a total of five times in seven finals. He was the first player to have a hat-trick in the competition, in Pan Bank’s 6-1 rout of Warri in 1953.
After originally touring with a Nigerian select team in 1949, Balogun returned to the UK in August 1955 to sign with Peterborough United. However, Balogun never made a league appearance for Peterborough, and spent time with Skegness Town before signing with Queen Park Rangers, scoring 3 goals in 13 appearances in the Football League during the 1956–57 season.
After leaving QPR, Balogun returned to non-League football, playing with Holbeach United.
Balogun was also a member of the Nigerian National Team side for 12 years.
Balogun while in England worked as an apprentice printer and a part-time footballer. He was studying printing at the London School of Printing while playing for Queens Park Rangers of London.
Balogun met with Obafemi Awolowo during Awolowo’s visit to England for the constitutional conference. Awolowo convinced Balogun to return to Nigeria, and Balogun returned to Nigeria in 1958.
Balogun became the first African to qualify as a professional coach. He was a coach for Nigeria at the 1968 Summer Olympics.
He later became a coach in the employ of the Western Nigeria Sports Council, having been sponsored by the government of the Western Region to take coaching courses in the United Kingdom.
The Teslim Balogun Stadium in the Nigerian city of Lagos is named in his honour.
The Teslim Balogun Foundation was founded after his death to assist the families of Nigerian ex-international footballers who may have fallen on hard times.
Balogun was nicknamed “Thunder” because of his powerful shot, and was also known as “Balinga” for a similar reason.
During his time touring schools to coach youngsters, he was nicknamed “Baba Ball.”
Balogun died in his sleep on 30th July 1972, at the age of 45.
He had eight children.
Balogun dedicated his last days to teaching high schoolers in Western State football movements and skills that would provide them the tools necessary to succeed if they chose to make a career out of football.
According to his widow in an interview with Drum Magazine, Balogun was on the verge of resigning his appointment and moving to Lagos when he died in his sleep at the age of forty-five on Sunday, July 30. 1972.