Nigeria and the African football world awoke to the shocking news of the passing away of iconic captain and coach of the Nigerian national football team -Super Eagles, Stephen Okechukwu Keshi who died today Wednesday following a cardiac arrest. And as we mourn this great loss, we take a look back at the life of the retired Nigerian football player.
The late captain who hailed from Delta State was born born 23 January, 1962 in Azare, Bauchi state to Igbo and Delta parents.
Launch of Football career
Stephen Keshi kicked off his successful career in St. Finbarrs College, Akoka before hitting the soils of Ivory Coast, Belgium, France, USA and Malaysia to further his calling. He rose to national prominence when debuted for the Super Eagles in 1981 at age 20.
How coaching career started
Stephen Keshi was inspired take on the reins of coaching by his first daughter, who said their school was looking for a coach and she believed he could, following the fact that he played professional football in Europe and at the World Cup. He succumbed, later earned coaching certificates and went on to attain a legendary status in the football world.
- Keshi aka Big Boss, was the only Nigerian coach to have won the Africa Cup of Nations.
He also became the second person in history to win the competition as a player and as a coach after Mahmoud El-Gohary of Egypt when he led the Super Eagles to win the tournament in 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
- The former midfielder cum defender played for his home country Nigeria between 1981 and 1995, making a total of 64 appearances. The late Central Defender withdrew from the national team in 1994. He had 64 caps and scored nine goals.
- Keshi also coached Togo and Mali before being appointed to lead Nigeria. As coach, he qualified an unlikely Togolese national team for the 2006 World Cup in Germany but was sacked and replaced with German Otto Pfister, just before the tournament.
- He was appointed manager of the Nigeria national team in 2011, during which he qualified Nigeria for the World Cup in Brazil and also won the African Nations Cup in 2013.
- He was a key player of the Nigerian national team and appeared at the 1994 FIFA World Cup. He played in five African Cup of Nations championships and was a part of the team, when they won the 1994 African Cup of Nations.
In 2004, Stephen was appointed coach of the Togolese National team, however in 2006, he was sacked by the Togolese national team and replaced with German Otto Pfiste but re-appointed coach in 2007.
Stephen Keshi was relieved of his duties as coach of the Super Eagles and replaced with another former handler, Shuaibu Amodu in 2015.
He worked as manager of the Mali national football team, after being appointed in April 2008 on a two-year deal. Keshi was sacked in January 2010, following Mali’s early exit in the group stages of the Africa Cup of Nations in Eygpt.
The former Super Eagles coach got married at the early age of 21 to Mrs. Kate Keshi, to “ward off ladies”, the couple were blessed with four children
Personal Battles/ Passing on
On the 9th December 2015, Keshi lost his heartthrob whom he had been married to for 35 years following her struggle with cancer.
According to reports, the former Eagles coach had been complaining about leg pain and palpitation and was advised to consult a medical doctor, it is however uncertain if the 54 year old yielded before his death in the early hours of today – 00:30am in Benin, capital of Edo State, following a cardiac arrest.
Close family sources also say Keshi complained of being ill just before midnight on Tuesday and he was found gasping for breath, he was then rushed to Faith Hospital in the Benin Government Reservation Area, where he gave up. Stephen Keshi was said to still be mourning his late wife and had come to the country briefly and was planning to return to UK later today when he had a cardiac arrest.
His body has been deposited at the Central Hospital in the city.
This painful death comes just about six months after his wife, Kate died in the United States.
He is reportedly the fifth member of the glorious 1994 Super Eagles team to die, after Uche Okafor, Thompson Oliha, Rashidi Yekini and Wilfred Agbonavbare.
He is survived by four children and his mother.
Salute to a great soul! Rest on.