Some Nigerian former football players have expressed shock over the death of ex-Super Eagles Head Coach, Stephen Keshi, 54, who died in the early hours of Wednesday. The ex-international, who had captained the national team, died in Benin while being taken to hospital after he complained of an illness.
Christian Chukwu, who captained the Green Eagles to win Nigeria’s first Africa Cup of Nations in 1980, shockingly said that “I can’t believe this news; do you mean that Keshi is dead? Recollecting himself, Chukwu said that “Keshi is a legend whose foresight placed him ahead of his peers.
“This is terrible news. We have lost a legend who contributed a lot to the growth of the game in the country. “As a player, he started so early and captained the junior and senior teams. “Keshi was one of the first Nigerian exports to play in Europe from where he opened the way for other players,’’ he said.
Chukwu recalled with nostalgia what he called the memorable days of the late football icon when in 1994 he led the Super Eagles to win the African Cup of Nations for the second time.
“He repeated the same feat after 19 years when in 2013, as a coach, he led the Eagles to lift the Nation’s Cup, a feat that has been achieved by only two Africans. “Keshi deserves a befitting burial and his death should not be linked to the controversy at the Glass House,’’ Chukwu said.
Keshi’s former backroom staff and teammate, Sylvanus Okpala said that he has yet to believe the news until he hears from Keshi’s brother. “I don’t believe this news, when I get through to his brother, then I will believe this,’’ he said Also, former teammate, Mutiu Adepoju, described his demise as very sad.
“Not long ago he lost his wife, it’s very sad news; it’s not palatable at all, he left his mark which will be with us forever,’’ he said. Nduka Ugbade, a former Super Eagles defender, sais that he assumed it was a wicked rumour. “Its very strange, when I first heard the news, I thought it was a rumour, but this is not April, it is not the first day in April when you can say April fool.
“I’m confused, I don’t know what to say, that a vibrant young man is gone so sudden places a great burden upon our hearts. “I can’t say rest in peace; it’s a great shock. I’m in Brilla FM hoping this news will turn out to be a lie,’’ he said. Ndubuisi Okosieme, a former player, also said he was shocked by the news.
“Are you serious, I’m just hearing this; I can’t believe this; is he dead? Never heard of any ailment, this is sad,’’ he said.