ABUJA (Sundiata Post) – The Nigerian nation has been in complete shock over the death Stephen Keshi, the former coach of the national team, Super Eagles. Eminent Nigerians from all works of life, including celebrities and Super Eagles players have continued to eulogise Keshi, who passed on amid suspicion that he succumbed to a heart attack in the early hours of Wednesday.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, said that he felt anguished waking up to the news that Stephen Keshi has passed on. According to Atiku, “Keshi was such an admirable and dedicated man who did Nigeria proud with his talent in the game of football. May he rest in peace.”
Kalusha Bwalya, Confederation of African Football (CAF) exco member and FIFA Football Committee member revealed that he woke up to the sad news of the passing of Stephen Keshi.
In his words “I can’t believe it. I am in shock. Keshi and myself started almost at same time in Belgium (1986). Sad sad sad mdala. Words can’t explain. Big man with a big heart Keshi was. Football legend. RIP.”
Sunday Oliseh, erstwhile Super Eagles coach said on his twitter handle “Horrible news & Sad day as Our Legendary Captain & brother Stephen Keshi dies. May his blessed soul rest in peace. We lost an iconic Hero 2day.”
Former Sotuh African player Mark Fish said he was very sad to hear about Stephen Keshi passing away. “Condolences to his family. An absolute gentleman off the field and a fantastic player.”
Comedian and entertainer Julius Agwu said “This truly exemplifies the brevity of human existence. Stephen Okechukwu Keshi….. You came, You Saw, You got trophies.”
Keshi, 54, is the only man to have won the African Nations Cup for Nigeria both as a captain and as a coach having captained the team to success in 1994 and managing it to the trophy in 2013. He became the only the second person to win the trophy both as a player and a coach after Egypt’s Mahmoud El-Gohary.
Fondly known as ‘Big Boss’ by his colleagues and those within football circles, Keshi was one of Nigeria’s early football exports to Europe, playing for Anderlecht in the late 1980s. A product of St. Finbarr’s College, Akoka, Lagos, late Stephen Keshi began his playing career at ACB Football Club, and then 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 to 1994, most of the time captaining the Super Eagles and scoring important goals from his position as a central defender. He also coached Togo and Nigeria at the World Cup, as well as Mali.