- Says it is a big loss to Football In Nigeria
By EUCHARIA NZEABI, Asaba
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has described the sudden demise of former Player, Captain and Coach, of the Super Eagles, 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,” the Governor declared.
“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,” Okowa remarked.
Keshi died at the age of 54 late Tuesday at his residence in Benin City, Edo State, without any prior ailment. His Manager, Emma Adoh, was said to have revealed that the time of death was about midnight.
Keshi was said to have died from Cardiac Arrest and his body has been deposited at the Central Hospital Benin City.
Keshi, was popularly called SKIPPO, by his fans and lovers of football in Nigeria. He was born onJanuary 23, 1962. Unfortunately, his wife, Kate, died of cancer in 2015.
He retired to Benin City after his contract as national coach of the Super Eagles was not renewed when it ended in 2015.
Keshi is in the record books of CAF as one of two persons, alongside Egypt’s Mahmoud El-Gohary, to win the Africa Cup of Nations as both a player and manager, as well as the only African to have secured qualification for two African Nations (Nigeria and Togo) to the World Cup.
ALSO SEE: Stephen Keshi is dead
He made 64 appearances for Nigeria and scored nine goals.
He started his professional soccer career at the defunct ACB Lagos in 1979. He later moved to New Nigeria Bank (NNB), Benin City (1980-1984), before pioneering international football in Nigeria by departing to Stade d’Abidjan (1986), and African Sports (1986-1987), both in Cote d’Ivoire.
He moved to Belgium and France where he played out most of his international career joining Lokeren (1986-1987), Anderlecht (1987-1991), RC Strasbourg (1991-1993) and Racing White Daring Molenbeek (RWDM) (1993-1994).
After the World Cup in USA in 1994, he moved to California and signed for Central California Valley Hydra where he made 20 appearances. He joined Sacramento Scorpions in 1996 alongside longtime team mate in the Nigerian league and Super Eagles, defensive midfielder, Augustine Eguavoen and then Perlis FA of Malaysia (1997-1998), where he retired as a player.
Keshi returned to the United States thereafter and started his certification as a coach.
He started his coaching career with the then Nigerian Football Association (NFA) and took charge of the Junior Eagles at the 2001 African Youth Championship, but failed to qualify the team for the 2011 FIFA World Youth Championship.
Between 2004 and 2006 Keshi coached the Togolese National soccer team, surprisingly
qualifying them to their first FIFA World Cup tournament in Germany in 2006. He left them briefly and returned in 2007.
In 2008 he signed a 2-year deal to coach the Malian National Soccer Team. He was fired in in January 2010, after Mali’s early exit in the group stages of the Africa Cup of Nations.
Keshi was hired by Nigeria to coach the national team in 2011 and led Nigeria to win the Africa Cup of Nations in 2013, defeating Burkina Faso 1-0 in the final. He resigned the next day only to reverse his decision the day after.
Again on 30 June 2014 Keshi announced his resignation as Super Eagles coach but later reversed the decision after the Nigerian Football Federation renewed his contract.
In July 2015, following Nigeria’s exit from the World Cup, Keshi’s contract with the Nigerian Football Federation expired and was not renewed. A statement by the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) Executive Committee said the decision was made, having thoroughly reviewed the reports/findings of the NFF Disciplinary Committee and NFF Technical and Development Committee, as well as having reviewed the actions and inaction of Stephen Keshi, in the performance of his duties as Super Eagles’ Head Coach, which NFF found to lack the required commitment to achieve the Federation’s objectives as set out in the Coach’s employment contract.