FIFA Mourns Yami Tella
On 9 September 2007, Nigeria won the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2007 in the South Korean capita!, Seoul. The brains behind this victory was coach Yemi Telia. Forty-one days later, on 20 October, Telia died of lung cancer in his homeland at the age of 56.
Although Telia had been to hospital for treatment as an out¬patient during the Eight Nations Tournament in Korea last June, he was soon able to return to work, ultimately guiding Nigeria’s U-17 team to second place at the event. During the U-17 World Cup, the coach’s condition deteriorated but he steadfastly persevered to the end of the tournament. However, Telia was noticeably subdued and introspective during the victory celebrations and after returning home, his health took a turn for the worse. He was readmitted to hospital in Lagos, where he sadly died soon after.
A teacher and trainer at the National Institute for Sport in Lagos, Telia had taken over the reins of the U-17 squad only a few months before the start of the World Cup in Korea. As he had previously specialised in training other coaches, up to that point he had had little experience coaching young players, but he soon proved that he was the right man for the job, leading the team to the African title before going one better and winning the FIFA U-17 World Cup a few months later. Telia was awarded the title, Member of the Order of the Federal Republic, from Nigerian President Umar Yar-Adua for his services to football. “There is no doubt that the legacy and foundation that he had laid down for Nigerian football will continue to prosper long into the future,” commented FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter. “His wise and impassioned leadership leaves a life-long impression on all who knew him, thus endearing him within the hearts and minds of Nigerian football forever.”