SAM HENSHAW IBIAM (APRIL 4, 1925 — DECEMBER 2, 2015)
Popularly known as The Black Magnet during his playing days, Sam Henshaw Ibiam was a Nigerian footballer who played as a goalkeeper for the pioneer Nigerian national football team who were regarded as the “1949 UK Tourists”. He conceded just five goals in his nine years of representing Nigeria, which he conceded against one team- Ghana, till he retired from international football in 1958.
Ibiam, along with 17 other players, boarded the RMS Apapa for Nigeria’s first venture abroad on August 16, 1949. Ibiam was Nigeria’s goalkeeper from the first international match against Sierra Leone on October 8, 1949. He played his last game for Nigeria in 1958.
When he earned his first proper international cap against Sierra Leone on the return journey from the UK, Nigeria won 2-0. He therefore had a clean slate. He did not play in Nigeria’s next international game two years later when the Jalco Cup competition was introduced between Nigeria and Gold Coast (now Ghana).
Ibiam returned to the national team in a 1-0 defeat of Togo in a friendly match on October 6, 1956. He still kept a clean slate. His next match was against Gold Coast in the annual Jalco Cup competition. Nigeria won 3-0: a clean slate for Ibiam.
He conceded his first international goal in eight years when Nigeria drew 3-3 with Ghana in an October 27, 1957 match in Accra. Remarkably, that was the first time Nigeria avoided a defeat from Ghana in Accra. The following year, Ibiam had his last international appearance when Nigeria beat Ghana 3-2 in Lagos to win the Jalco Cup for the last time. On return from Ghana in 1958, he joined the Onitsha Redoubtable, a club put together by Justice Chuba Ikpeazu who later became NFA chairman in 1965/66 and 1988/89.
In recognition for his achievements, Sam Ibiam was awarded a trophy at the “First National Sports Award for Sports Heroes and Heroines of Yesteryear” in 1987.
Ibiam died on December 2, 2015 at his residence in Unwana, Afikpo, Ebonyi State , Nigeria after a protracted illness. He suffered neglect in his last years.
Officials of Nigeria’s Sports Ministry and the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) were absent and failed to send representatives during the burial of the national team’s very first goalkeeper in April, 2016. #HistoryVille