Nigeria (Blank NEWS Online) –
Delta state born former Nigeria’s Super Eagles Head Coach, Stephen Okechukwu Chinedu Keshi, is dead.
Keshi, who hails from Illah in Oshimili North local government area of Delta state, was said to have suddenly died of cardiac arrest in the early hours of Wednesday in Benin City, Edo state. He was scheduled to return to the United States on Wednesday evening.
The former international football player and coach had lost his wife of 35 years, Kate, last year after a prolonged battle with cancer.
A member of his family as well as one of his close associates were said to have confirmed his dhave.
“He was not ill at all, never showed any signs of illness, but we suspect he never got over the death of his wife,” a friend said.
He is survived by four children and his mother.
Keshi, the only Nigerian coach to have won the Africa Cup of Nations, achieved a rare feat in 2013 by becoming only the second person to win the trophy both as a player and a coach.
The only other person to have achieved the feat is Egypt’s Mahmoud El-Gohary.
Keshi, a product of St. Finbarr’s College, Akoka, Lagos, started his playing career at a very young age at ACB Football Club, and later played for New Nigeria Bank, Stade d’Abidjan, Africa Sports, Lokeren, Anderlecht, RC Strasbourg, and a host of other clubs.
He represented Nigeria from 1982, at age 20, till 1994, most of the time captaining the Super Eagles and scoring vital goals from his position as a central defender.
He also coached Togo and Nigeria at the World Cup, as well as Mali.
Keshi, nicknamed the “Big Boss” for his leadership skills, is the fifth member of the all-conquering 1994 team to die, following Uche Okafor, Thompson Oliha, Rashidi Yekini and Wilfred Agbonavbare.
‘He has found rest’
Meanwhile, the family has released a statement announcing his death.
The statement signed by Emmanuel Ado was titled: “Stephen Keshi CON has gone to be with his wife”.
“With thanksgiving to God, the Ogbuenyi Fredrick Keshi family of Illah in Oshimili North Local Government Area of Delta State, announces the death of Mr. Stephen Okechukwu Chinedu Keshi,” Ado wrote.
“Our son, brother, father, father-in-law,brother-in-law, has gone to be with his wife of 35 years (Nkem), Mrs. Kate Keshi, who passed on on the 9th December 2015.
“Since her death, Keshi has been in mourning. He came back to Nigeria to be with her. He had planned to fly back today Wednesday, before he suffered a cardiac arrest. He has found rest.
“We thank God for his life.
“We want to ask for understanding in this very difficult time for the family.”
Keshi Was A Great Patriot, Achiever― Okowa
Meanwhile, Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa has described the sudden demise of former Super Eagles Player and Coach, Stephen Okechukwu Keshi as tragic and a monumental loss to football in Nigeria, Africa and the entire world.
The Governor in a tribute and condolence message signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Charles Ehiedu Aniagwu, extolled the leadership qualities and sterling contributions of the former Super Eagles Captain and Coach to the growth and development of football in Nigeria and Africa.
According to Governor Okowa, the sterling contributions of Stephen Keshi to the development of football in Nigeria and Africa is legendary, commendable and worthy of emulation as a great patriot and achiever having led Nigeria to win the African Nations Cup twice as a player and Coach.
Okowa said: “On behalf of the government and people of Delta State, I commiserate with the family of the late Stephen Okechukwu Keshi, and the entire football loving fans in Nigeria over the demise of the late Super Eagles former Captain and Coach.
“The remarkable achievements recorded by the Nigeria Super Eagles in 1994 and 2013 were unarguably due to his indefatigable role as the Captain and Coach of the Super Eagles in those glorious years culminating in the winning of the African Nations Cup.
“Delta State and indeed Nigerians has lost a great man whose contributions to the football world can best be described as legendary”.
“He will be sorely missed by all and sundry whose lives he affected in several ways. I therefore urge all who mourn the demise of Stephen Keshi to take solace in the fact that his was a life of great accomplishments and service to humanity in which we give thanks to the Almighty God for the indelible footprints of his achievements in the sands of time.”
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