The 4-time Confederation of African Football Award recipient in 2004, 2005, 2010 and 2011 was in the Super Falcons squad when Dede doubled as Captain of the team and goal keeper.
Dede and Nkwocha were roommates and the former goalkeeper who stands at 171cm said she was glad to do her laundry despite being the captain of the team.
“I was in the same room with Perpetua in our active days in the Super Falcons and I was doing the washing for her. I ironed her jerseys. I chose to do it because she’s nice to a fault. When i started as first choice goalkeeper, though she was an attacker, i’d always call on her to come back and defend me and she will run back without complaining.
Most players were my seniors so they’d usually complain at times or be reluctant to defend me. Perpetua Nkwocha was the only one who, whenever I was in a tight corner, i will call her once and she will leave her role and come to my post.
“You will never hear her complain or give excuses so, you see when i started respecting her person. I still see and respect her most till tomorrow. If you ask for my best female player, I’ll give it to her. She has a great personality and she’s a leader. Even when i was the captain, i used to go to her for advice”.
The longest serving goalkeeper also spoke on one of her saddest days as the captain of the team.
“A sad moment for me was during the African Women’s Championship in 2012. We came 4th in Equatorial Guinea . Everything went wrong right from the day we arrived because even the Jerseys we used for the competition were borrowed from the players and were numbered with ink and plaster. I was the captain then.
“I had to borrow personal jerseys from the players. The team’s secretary pleaded with me to go round and get as many good jerseys from them as possible. They wouldn’t have listened to anyone or agreed to bring their jerseys if I hadn’t gone to them by myself”.
I asked her what happened to the original team’s jerseys for the competition.
“They told us that the Airline mistakenly took our kits to another country and that they will send it back as soon as possible. Till the end of the tournament… till today, we are still expecting the jerseys.
“However, my saddest moment was when I lost my parents. My dad first died in 1999 and my mum in 2000. Mum died the very day i came back home from the Sydney 2000 Olympics and that was my first outing with the Super Falcons. As I opened the door to her hospital room, she gave up…
“When I arrived from the airport, I only kept my bag and my elder brother rushed me to the hospital. She was just waiting for me to arrive. Wish she had waited a little longer to speak to me. I had rushed home to show her the dollars I made and also replace her gold jewelry which I misplaced but she couldn’t wait for me.
“My mum was so close to my dad. Since my dad died in 1999, she was always saying she couldn’t live without her husband oo.. Ha! That woman followed my dad oo! She really loved that man. Infact they both loved each other as they always stuck to each other like chewing gum…as if someone will steal the other person”.
She revealed that when both parents died , it was so difficult for the family. Dede was forced to temporarily quit the University of Uyo where she was a Diploma student in Theatre Arts.
“I stubbornly combined my education with football. That was why immediately dad left us i quickly left school and faced football squarely. That was how then, i was able to break into the to the National team. Things became a bit rosy again but not really without my parents. They ensured that all of us got an education at the higher level but when they both died, I dropped out and faced football.
“It’s never too late to go back to school. I will and my friend is insisting i must go back to school in any country of my choice after the U-17 World Cup to be hosted by India. However, no one is sure of anything now with Covid-19. Personally, I will not even leave football for anything entirely. I will make plans for both.
On the contrary, her happiest moment was when she lifted the African Women’s Championship trophy as the captain in 2010.
She recalled how she broke into the women’s national team at the age of 20.
“Coach Ismaila Mabo came to watch Bayelsa Queens against Rivers Angels at the National stadium Lagos in 1999. Then I was the Goalkeeper for Bayelsa Queens. Rivers Angels trounced us 9-1 but i was the only player Coach Mabo picked from Bayelsa Queens.
“Then, during camping in 2000, i was lucky to break in as a third choice goalkeeper at the age of 20 years behind Judith Chime and Ann Chiejine. By 2003, I was the first choice goalkeeper till I retired in 2016. When I retired , I went to play in Dubai.
“I never got tired of playing. However, i gave myself fifteen years to play football and when the fifteen years elapsed, I said it was time to move a step further because i had a plan for my career.
“I wanted to go into coaching and other things. I have certificates in Basic and Advanced Football Courses acquired from the National Institute for Sports. Since i finished from there, we have not done any CAF licenced courses again but Coach Dennerby is also making efforts to send me for CAF Coaching License courses.
“He was already guiding me on Goalkeepers Licenced courses online before he left for Sweden. He said i will get to the level he wants me to but with time. Same with Coach Ismaila Mabo and Barrister Isaac Danladi. They also call to see how i’m improving and they never get tired of guiding me”.
Her mentors, according to her are Coach Ismaila Mabo, Coach Thomas Dennerby, Barrister Isaac Danladi and Genevieve Nnaji while she equally likes to mentor young women, teenagers and youths.
Was there any ‘mafia’ in the Super Falcons team during her playing days?
“I never allowed such when i became the captain. I met the coaches alone if there was any complaint from the players. We were all sisters and no one was bigger than the other. However, my best players at the time were Perpetua Nkwocha, Eberechi Opara, Florence Omagbemi, Mercy Akide and Patience Avre. Others were good too but these were my favorites at that time”
Precious, like her name connotes is an amazing pleasant lady and very funny too. She revealed that if she wasn’t coaching or playing football, she would have been in the entertainment world.
“Aside football, acting and entertainment are my passion. Fashion and designing is a third choice. I am a comedian. Anywhere i am, they spot me easily.
“First time i traveled with the Indian U-17 team to Turkey for International friendlies, I didn’t know i was already acting and people started laughing out loud, clapping and gathering around me. They were actually struggling to catch a glimpse of me.
“It was at the airport where I went to pick my phone from were i plugged it . Then i started walking like an old man. More than 50 travelers at the airport gathered to watch me including my players who always want to be around me. I always make them laugh.
“Another time, the team went to the beach. First time at the beach and i started dancing and everyone joined me immediately. Anytime Coach Dennerby wants the players to relax, he will ask them to go and dance with their mum. The players call me mum. You need to see them jumping and dancing around me because they love to dance with me”.
There’s no dull moment for Dede whose best food is Fufu (cassava pudding) and okro soup. She loves to cook her own food and doesn’t like eating out.
During my long chat with the 99-capped former international, Dede also spoke on the best dressed Nigerian women footballers.
“I really can’t say because i don’t fancy female players who dress like men. Even if you are wearing the best and most expensive clothes i don’t fancy it. I love girls to be girls. I will pick Francisca Ordega, Onome Ebi and Ngozi Okobi.
“For me, I love to wear skirts, short dresses and long gowns. I like clothes from Zara, H&M, Forever 21 and Marks & Spencer but most time, i buy clothes from my friends too. In Nigeria, I buy clothes from Mango shop, inside Shoprite. I can’t stay a whole week in Nigeria without visiting Shoprite. My best fragrance is Givenchy”.
The 40 year old elegant lady is the 6th child of a family of 7 with four brothers and two sisters. According to Dede, age in just a number.
“I’m not afraid of growing old and I’m not afraid of death because I try to make every second in my life count by doing everything that pleases God. In the next five years, I will like to be somewhere peaceful with my twin babies…by His grace. I love kids and pets to a fault and admire people who are verbally captivating.
“My dad told me that I’m the most beautiful woman on earth. He’s late now but since he told me that, i have felt like Miss World. I don’t see any woman prettier than I am. My father has built so much confidence that makes me feel that I can do all things. As long as my father said so it means I am that and I can do all that I set out to do”, Dede said
The former Ibom Queens, Delta Queens, and Arna Bjona of Norway shot-stopper won the African Women’s Championship in 2010 and 2014 and
retired from professional football in October 2016 after a meritorious service to her fatherland and a record of the longest serving player in the Super Falcons squad.