Khartoum (Sudanow.info.sd) Sudanese generations of the 1960s and 1970s mentally associate football with player Nasr Eddin Abbas, broadly known for his nickname “Jaksa”.
He is a footballer who was once thought to be Africa’s Pele for his unique talent in maneuvering, scoring and play making.Tall, handsome and well-built, Jaksa had gripped the hearts of many Sudanese both male and female.
Part of Jaksa’s fame can be attributed to the fact that he played for the First Division club al-Hilal and part of that fame is because he was known to have stopped a series of Hilal defeats from its arch-rival al-Mirrikh that once counted eight consecutive defeats in the city of Omdurman derby.
“Al-Hilal of that time was made up of aging lacklustre players and this had given al-Mirrikh side the chance to prey on them eight times in a row”, Jaksa remembers.“Then the administration made some rejuvenations, listing new players beside myself”, he asserts.
“I remember, we did good team work and obtained a 2-2 draw to escape a 9th defeat. Although I scored the equalizer for my team, I am of the view that it was team work that helped” he humbly says about the match that kept the Mirrikh danger at bay for some time.
Jaksa’s fame also crossed countries and even continents that he was flirted with by renowned internationals like FC Boca Juniors of Argentina, FC Bayern Munich of Germany, FC Sofia of Bulgaria and FC Bucharest of Romania.
About Boca Juniors approaches he said it was during a trip to the United Kingdom with his team al-Hilal. Junior scouts put their eyes on him and asked for his service, but the then al-Hilal president Hassan Abdulgadir refused to take the responsibility of releasing him. “What would I say if al-Hilal ask why did you let him go”, Abdulgadir argued at the time.
Then there came another offer from the German giants Bayern Munich which was about to take hold. “I promised the manager of the airliner Lufthansa who was on business visit to Khartoum to sign for the Bayern once a tournament in Ethiopia is over, but back from Addis Ababa I could not make it because my mother stood in the way. She warned that if I would go to Germany she would travel back to our home town of Um Rawwaba in Kordofan”. Jaksa said he grudgingly apologized to the Lufthansa boss.
Because of the euphoria he caused people had chosen to name sweet things and fashionable dresses after him. It could be remembered that some sweets sold during Prophet Muhammad’s birth day festivities (al-mawlid) were called halawa Jaksa (or Jaksa sweets).“That was on the day we stopped our successive defeats from Al-Mirrikh. The then Mirrikh boss Hassan Abu-Alaila warned that after the match Mirrich fans would taste al-mawlid sweets all by themselves because they were sure to be the winning side. But when I scored the equalizer, the Hilal fans said they were the ones to eat the sweets and, then, poured into the streets chanting “halawa Jaksa” and made a lovely melody out of it” Jaksa remembers in an interview with Sudanow magazine. The same happened in another match when Hilal defeated Mirrich scoring 3 goals.
At that time a tailor in the city made an ‘above-the-knee’ skirt for a girl and when her peers saw how lovely it was, they rushed to get similar ones. Football fans took the opportunity and called the new dress: Jaksa Fi Khat Sitta (or Jaksa in line six meters – the penalty area).
Football fans also remember Jaksa for a photo shot as he swam into the air to reach for the ball with his right foot. People had always thought that leap was a goal. But Jaksa had some corrections to make and some bad memories to tell about that shot.
“It was not a goal. The ball had just touched the net from the outside”, he says. “What was bad about that spectacular jump was that it caused me an ailment in the back that took me to London and elsewhere in search for a cure but to no avail” he laments. Nevertheless, he continued playing wearing a belt around his waist upon the advice of his doctors.
Jaksa had made history with al-Hilal Club as well as with the country’s national squad. With al-Hilal he played lots and lots of outstanding matches winning scores of trophies for his side in the local competitions. He also scored a lot of goals for al-Hilal in the African contests where he shone so brightly that he was consequently rated among the first 30 players in the history of African football.
At the level of the country’s national team he had the honour to be among the group of players that lifted the African Nation’s Cub in 1970, scoring and play-making in a hard-won competition.It was for those achievements that Jaksa had received many accolades at the national and club levels.
He had received decorations from the governments of former Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi and former presidents Ibrahim Aboud and Gaafar Nimeri. He was decorated twice during the rule of President Omar al-Bashir.
“I am very contented with what I have done for my country and my club and its fans. What really gratifies me is the respect and good feeling I receive from al-Mirrikh fans irrespective of ages of rivalry between the two clubs”, he says.
“I am particularly elated by the fact that the Ministry of Education had included an article about me in the English syllabus”, he further acknowledges.
Jaksa began his football career in his home city of Omdurman as a very young boy at the religious seminary (or Khalwa) in Abbasia suburb. He remembers that because of his passion for football, he carried a ball wherever he went.
He remembers the first day he joined al-Rabie club when he was denied entry by the club gate keeper who considered him too young to enter that world. But when the club president noticed the scene he interfered and asked the man to let him in.
It was in al-Rabie club that he attracted first division club scouts. A feverish squabble for his signature broke out among al-Hilal, al-Mirrikh and al-Mawrada after he scored two goals in a few minutes of play with al-Rabie. Because al-Hilal was his favourite club, he opted for them.
He said he did not receive any transfer money from al-Hilal save a sum of 200 pounds al-Hilal paid to repair the Rabie-club building. “Neither al-Hilal nor the national team had paid me anything other than the play clothes and I remember to have taken care of my medication all by myself”.
Because of his infatuation with football Jaksa had to quit education at the intermediate school stage.
He joined the Ministry of Defense in a clerical job for sometime. There he was asked by the army chief to join the army but he refused. He also turned down an offer to train as a police officer. He feared that the army or police service might deprive him from football.However Jaksa joined the American Mobil Oil Company and spent a long time with them.
Comparing present football in Sudan with that of his generation, he said in those days there were more talents than now. “It was talent that counted then. But now it is money that directs football”, he argues.
Jaksa advises a return to city football instead of the current national tournament. “The national tournament had deprived us from excellent city teams. We are in a situation when outstanding city teams join the national tournament leaving behind weaker clubs for the city competitions”, he argues, adding that this had caused regional football to diminish.“Look at Wad Medani and Port Sudan. They no longer generate teams and players like what they did in the past. Regional football is about to become defunct”, he says.
Jaksa had started a football academy to nurture young talents and because of cash shortage the academy died in its infancy of three months after having attracted more than 450 talented kids.
Jaksa was always around at the Sudan Football Association (SFA) coaching and advising. He also developed a good career in sports journalism and now writes for the sports daily newspaper Gaf Sports.
Asked whether he could see a player of his caliber in today’s generation, Jaksa said there is no player of his clout now!
“Not all, there is no match for Jaksa or the generation that followed like Ali Gagarin, Addihaish, Bushara Whaba or Bushara” he said.
(Edited by Dr. Yahya al-Hassan)