By Richard Beale …

Last Saturday night 19th May, the Lefkoşa Atatürk Stadium played host to a “galaxy” of football stars who entertained us with an “Exhibition” match.

A World X1 took on an All Stars X1 in a “charity” match to raise funds for the Kanu and Lua Lua foundations.

In the World X1 were some of the greats of the past, KANU, MICHAEL ESSIEN, ALEX SONG, YAKUBA, CHIMBONDA and MICHAEL ENARAMO, for the All Stars X1 this mainly consisted of stars past and present of the Turkish and TRNC Leagues, these included LUA LUA (Ex Newcastle, Portsmouth), TUGAY (Ex Blackburn Rovers) and Turkish stars TANJU, HASAN KABZE.

ALL STARS X1 v WORLD STARS X1

The result which didn’t matter ended in a 6-5 win for the All Stars. What mattered was the match played with many “smiles”, none bigger than that of the Ex Arsenal and Portsmouth star KANU, his legs may have gone, but the talent is still there and of course he always has possessed the “biggest smile” in football that always lights up any place. The match was played at a leisurely and good hearted tempo, but there was no doubting the skills of these former greats with Essien, Kanu, Yakuba and Tugay showing off their full range of “tricks”.

Before and after the match, the “stars” were very accommodating with their time posing for photos, selfies and signing autographs for many adoring fans.

The “great man” KANU and TRNC President MUSTAFA AKINCI kicking off

The “great man” Kanu didn’t manage to get on the score sheet, but for the All Stars Lua Lua did and celebrated with his trademark back somersault which was greatly appreciated by the fans.

The majority of the crowd I would say was made up of many Africans who were noisy and very enthusiastic worshipping their heroes.

With an important finale to the Turkish Super League and of course the English FA Cup Final (so glad I missed it) this had an affect on the attendance, which was around 1500-2000 spectators.

A great atmosphere, a great night and a great occasion and a major coup for the TRNC to stage this match and, as it should be, sport takes priority over politics.

YAKUBA in action and right LUA LUA celebrates his goal in his normal fashion