The Nigerian football family was thrown into mourning yesterday by the news of the demise of former international midfielder and coach, Paul ‘Wonderboy” Hamilton.Hamilton, who once worked with various national teams as either assistant or substantive coach in the 1980s and early 1990s, passed away in a Lagos hospital after battling with a protracted illness.
He was recently diagnosed with a heart and kidney related problems, and had his right leg amputated early this year.Confirming the demise of the coach, Hamilton’s wife, Durdy, who had been tending the former coach, told a local website, “as I speak with you, I am at the Military Hospital in Yaba. I am with some doctors for a meeting.”
Durdy had recently pleaded with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to settle the debts it owed her husband to enable them continue with his treatment.
Hamilton played for the senior national team in the 1960s and 1970s, including at the 1968 Olympic Games, but football lovers of the later generation will remember him as the coach that led Nigeria to its second FIFA medal when he took the Flying Eagles to the bronze medal at the Moscow 1985 U-20 World Cup.
Hamilton briefly coached the Super Eagles, including taking the reins for the 1990 FIFA World Cup qualifying series, before Dutchman Clemens Westerhorf took over with only the last match of the campaign (away to Cameroon in Yaoundé) left in the series.
He was the coach to lead the Super Falcons to their first Fifa Women’s World Cup in 1991 in China, where Nigeria lost their three Group C games against Germany, Italy and Chinese Taipei.