Coach Okechukwu Emordi on Friday described the late Paul Hamilton as a role model and a “perfect gentleman’’ whose life inspired everyone in the football family.
Emordi, paying tribute to the popular “Wonder Boy’’ Paul Hamilton in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said the departed ex-international was an inspiration to all.
Hamilton spent the bulk of his playing career which spanned between 1961to1975 with the defunct NEPA FC in Lagos.
His football career was cut short with a leg injury and thereafter he went into coaching and was hired as coach of the U-20 national team.
He was also one time head coach of the Nigerian national football team in 1989 but was fired after Nigeria failed to qualify for the 1990 FIFA World Cup.
Hamilton was later drafted to coach the female national team “Super Falcons’’ to the first ever World Cup held in China 1991.
He had his left leg amputated as the result of many injuries. He passed on after a long illness on March 30.
“I knew when he was sick and hospitalized, I prayed thinking he will get over it; he was a perfect gentleman and inspiration to us. It is unfortunate that he is gone.
“Paul Hamilton was a brother and uncle, we all grew up together in Onitsha where I attended primary and commercial school with him.
“During my primary school days, we both attended New Bethel Primary School, Onitsha, he was ahead of me. I initially thought that he was an Onitsha man not until he left.
“When I went to a commercial school in Onitsha, I also met him, that time he was in class four when I came in. We always look up to him as a role model,’’ he said.
Emordi said that Hamilton cut his teeth as a great footballer during his school days.
“In school, he was a fantastic footballer and a perfect gentleman; after he finished commercial school he left for Lagos.
“As a coach, I never met him because he was in the national team while I coached clubs.
“He left an indelible mark on the coaching world with his gentleman treatment of his players.
It’s very unfortunate that such a gentleman will have to go like that, I never thought of it. I pray that God will give his family the fortitude to bear the loss,’’ he said.