Exclusive: Former Nigerian footballer Omolade dies in Italy, hailed as an anti-racism hero

Bad news has taken hold in the Italian city of Palermo after a Nigerian football player, Akeem Oluwashegun Omolade, died inside his friend’s car on Monday after doctors were unable to deal with the strange illness that plagued the former striker. , reports Completesports.com.

Omolade, 39, was a professional football player in Italy for several years. He lived for a few years in Palermo and worked as a translator in a courtroom before his death.

At the time of this report, Omolade’s cause of death was unclear. His corpse has no external injuries, which rules out any suspicion of death by violence.

According to PalermoToday.it, Omolade started having pain in his leg for the last few days and went to the hospital three times, but he couldn’t get better. On his last morning, he tried to go to the hospital again, but he couldn’t walk. A friend of his then came to pick him up in his Peugeot car. But Omolade became very sick as soon as he got into the car. His friend asked for help, but it was too late and the former football player died.

Omolade, born in Kaduna, had a long year of football career in Italy, playing for different clubs and scoring many goals. Italian met his name for the first time in a very particular story in the media. He came to Italy when he was 17 and was signed by Treviso, a football club from the same city in northeastern Italy, not far from Venice, whose players are also called Biancocelesti.

Treviso, due to financial difficulties, now plays in Eccellenza, the Italian Fifth Division – a Regional League. But the club was in Serie B [Second Division] when Omolade arrived, and they were also a very important team in Italian football.

Omolade will forever be remembered with what happened when he debuted for Treviso and his talent put us against racism.

Exactly on May 27, 2001, in the 67th minute of the match, Ternana x Treviso, Omolade replaced Nicolella on the field. It was the Nigerian’s debut in a professional league. But some Treviso ultras didn’t like that a black man was playing for their favorite team. So they left the stadium to protest this.

This very bad event did not go unnoticed. Seven days later, there was Treviso vs Genoa, in the next Serie B game at the “Omobono Tenni”, which is Treviso’s stadium. All Biancocelesti players entered the field with their faces painted black, in strong solidarity with Omolade. In fact, the entire Tennis Stadium crowd cheered for that.

Photos of this situation circulated in Italy and throughout Europe. And the same Nigerian striker, Omolade, also found glory on the pitch. He replaced Nicolella in the second half and, in the 86th minute, with a beautiful header, he scored Treviso’s first goal, making the score 2-1. A few minutes later, Carparelli made it 2-2.

After that season with Treviso, Omolade went on to play for many other Italian clubs, notably; Turin, Novara, Biellese, Reggiana, Gela, Barletta, Vibonese, Mazara and Ribera.

Perhaps his career never took off, but he became and was a hero and a symbol of anti-racism.

One of his teammates in Treviso was Alessandro Gazzi, 39, who for a long time remained a very good midfielder. He also played in Serie A for Reggina, Bari, Siena, Torino and Palermo.

In an exclusive interview with Completesports.com, Gazzi recalls Omolade and that special afternoon at the Tennis Stadium, when Treviso players defended their teammate against racism.

“Omolade trained especially with the Youth Team, with him were other important youngsters like Sarr and Reginaldo. At the end of the League, he graduated from the first team”, recalled Gazzi

“I remember him as a sunny guy, polite and well integrated with everyone. I’m really sorry about his death. That afternoon I was young and it was also my League debut. I was eighteen years old and that’s why I didn’t realize the grandeur and importance of our gesture [faces painted black].

“The climate was not easy because the team was about to be relegated. But when we entered the field with colored faces, everything took a back seat. It is not by chance that our gesture is still so relevant, even if twenty-one years have passed. I was very happy for Omolade, also because in that game he scored his first goal”.

Another player on this team was goalkeeper Marco Fortin. He spares his thoughts about his much-loved teammate.

“I am only saying this because of this terrible news. I remember Omolade a lot as a bright, clear guy with very good principles. He was a boy who, like many other people his age, was trying to come out and show his strengths,” Fortin told Completespsorts.com in an exclusive interview.

“That afternoon at Tennis, we made an instinctive gesture. Personally, I’ve always been very careful with these quests.

“I have always wondered if these ugly and shameful gestures are done out of ignorance or because you are in a group and therefore feel carried away by the herd. I am convinced that it is more the latter, and that if I spoke individually to each of these people, almost all of them would condemn it.”

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