icon_corner icon_start_stop icon_start_stop icon_start_stop goal-black icon_post icon_miss icon_save icon_card_red icon_save icon_start_stop icon_sub icon_card_yellow instagram icon-2018 twitter icon-2018 youtube icon-2018

Breaking News

The story of Teslim Balogun

AS we continue to celebrate Black History Month, Queens Park Rangers are proud to tell the stories of our first ever black players.

Six years after the departure of Tommy Best - our first ever black player - Nigerian centre forward Teslim Balogun joined the club.

Born on March 27th 1931 in his native Lagos, Balogun would be a trail blazer for African footballers, with the 6ft 2in attacker becoming Nigeria’s first ever professional footballer and their first ever qualified football coach. Like Best, he laid the foundations for generations of black players to come throughout his career.

Balogun had to take an unconventional route to eventually become the R’s second ever black footballer.

As a schoolboy in Nigeria, the young centre forward played for a host of clubs including St.Mary’s Catholic School, Marine Athletic Club and the Railway Athletic Club. This is where his hunger for football really developed and his powerful shot became quite synonymous around the city of Lagos.

He was quickly nicknamed ‘Thunder’ and ‘Balinga’ as a result, and the names would follow him around his whole footballing career.

Working as a letterpress printer, Balogun headed to England in 1955 where he would study at the London School of Printing.

But, a turn of fate on his voyage to England saw him introduced to George Swindin - the Peterborough United manager - by the secretary of the Nigerian FA.

After being offered a trial with United, Balogun’s English footballing dream had begun.

However, after a season with the Posh, the centre forward had been unable to make an appearance and, despite still living in London, he signed for Skegness Town.

Within a matter of months, the travelling to and from London to Skegness had become too difficult and the centre forward asked to be released.

This didn’t dampen Balogun’s footballing spirit though and in a bid to keep fit in Paddington, the centre forward's footballing dreams would finally come true.

Balogun met a Queens Park Rangers supporter, who put him in contact with R’s manager Jack Taylor.

Following a meeting with the Nigerian, Taylor agreed to sign him, giving the west London side some much needed firepower up front ahead of the 1956/57 season.

Balogun made his league debut for the Third Division R's on the 13th October 1956, in a 3-1 home win over local side Watford, with the tall striker scoring a header.

That year he went on to score seven goals in 16 games, playing alongside a host of iconic QPR names including goalkeeper Ron Springett and our record appearance Tony Ingham.

It was to only be a solitary season with Rangers and Balogun then departed for non-league side Holbeach United, before moving back to his native Nigeria.

Many years later, the centre forward reflected on his time in W12, by saying: “I shall always be grateful to Mr Taylor and the Rangers’ Directors for the chance they gave me.

“And I cannot praise too highly the Rangers’ crowd. I felt they were with me from the first day.”

During his footballing career, he won six caps for the Nigerian national side, becoming the first ever Nigerian professional footballer and a role model for generations of aspiring Nigerian footballers to come.

Following his retirement from playing the game he loved, Balogun would break down another racial barrier and become Africa’s first ever qualified football coach, leading his national side to the 1968 Summer Olympics.

Balogun died on July 30th 1972, at the young age of 45. However, his great name lives on in more than one way.

In his home city of Lagos, the former striker now has a multi-use stadium named after him, ensuring his legacy continues.

In Surulere, Lagos, the Teslim Balogun Stadium is mostly used for football matches and hosts First Bank FC, as well as some Nigerian national side youth games.

Construction of the stadium started in 1984 and after 23 years was eventually opened in 2007.

As well as this, the Teslim Balogun Foundation was founded after his death, to assist families of Nigerian ex-international footballers who have fallen on hard times, ensuring the Teslim Balogun name will live on.