If we asked you to close your eyes and visualise one football shirt from 2018, the chances are you will picture something Nigerian.
Nigeria’s 2018 World Cup home shirt by Nike was the undoubted hype hit of the year and showed a brash, vibrant and optimistic, face of young Africa to the world.
Great football shirts from Nigeria do not begin and end with the Super Eagles of the national team, but continue in the form of this stunning goalkeeper shirt from the Blue Eagles of Gbagada FC.
This sleek, short-sleeved, blue-eagled, keeper’s kit by Nigerian sportswear manufacturers Haggai comes from the heart of Lagos’ street football culture and we have our friends at Footballkitbox.com to thank for sending it to us in one of their boxes of joy.
The Blue Eagles hail from the central Lagos neighbourhood of Gbagada and have swiftly progressed from street football to the Nigerian national league in a matter of years.
Growing from a 5-a-side football culture, the club was reborn in 2013, entered the Nigerian league in 2017, were promoted in their first season and are now preparing for life in the Nationwide League’s 3rd Tier.
Originally founded by local Gbagada boys who shared a love of football as “Gboiz FC,“ the club soon outgrew the small side format of the game and launched a full team to compete in local leagues.
As those boys matured and commitments to work and education began to take over, key members of the team moved away from the area and sadly, Gboiz disbanded.
But the Gboiz’s dreams wouldn’t die there!
Gbagada Football Club was born in 2013, when former Gboiz player Akinyelu Olajide, having forged a career in coaching at Nigeria’s National Institute of Sports (NIS), returned home with a mission to establish a new club to represent the area.
Olajide’s passion and drive was to identify young, talented players and give them the technical support needed to progress towards professional football.
The Blue Eagles on Gbagada’s badge and across the lower portion of the shirt do not pay homage to Lazio as you may be forgiven for thinking, but instead pay tribute to the club’s original fans; the soaring eagles that made their nests up on the power line masts that overlooked where the Gboiz played in the 1990s.
Whilst those power lines remain, the neighbourhood’s rapid development has seen Gbagada’s eagles leave their homes.
Younger players are unaware that those majestic birds once called the area home but thanks to Gbagada FC’s supporters they will always remain a part of the club’s identity.
As the pride of Gbagada, the Blue Eagles’ rapid ascent reminds us of the importance of community, the grassroots game and the formation of many of the club’s we hold dear to our hearts who began with a few friends wanting to kick a ball around.
Through their wonderful shirts and the help of social media, Gbagada’s Blue Eagles have attracted new fans across the globe and we’re certainly proud to feature their goalkeeper shirt in the pages of Sartorial.Soccer!
You can follow Gbagada’s Blue Eagles in their first season in the 3ed tier of the Nigerian National League via Twitter (@gbagadafc).
Big thanks to our friends at Footballkitbox.com for sharing this shirt with us through their incredible football shirt subscription service. For more fantastic shirts like this one, please give them a follow on Twitter (@footballkitbox).
We always enjoy covering stories from grass-roots and community clubs, so if your side has a shirt you think we should cover on Sartorial.Soccer then you must alert us to your kit!