Sam Okwaraji: 26 years after he collapsed

26th anniversary of the unfortunate incident that saw one of the brightest midfielder in Nigeria football history die .

He died on August 12, 1989 while playing for the Senior National Team in a 1990 FIFA World Cup qualifying match.

Samuel Sochukwuma Okwaraji (19 May 1964 – 12 August 1989) was a professional footballer who played internationally for Nigeria. He was also a qualified lawyer who had a masters in international law from the University of Rome.

He collapsed and died of congestive heart failure in the 77th minute of a World Cup qualification match against Angola at the Lagos National Stadium in Surulere,Lagos State on 12 August 1989.

Okwaraji had a career in Europe which included playing for NK Dinamo Zagreb, VfB Stuttgart and SSV Ulm 1846 while finishing his education in law.

In his short stay with Dinamo Zagreb, Samuel scored 3 goals in a friendly game vs NK Budućnost Hodošan. The game was played on 30 April 1986, and Dinamo Zagreb won 12-0.

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Samuel’s only official game for Dinamo in the Yugoslav First League was as a substitute on 18 May 1986 against FK Priština. The game was played at Maksimir stadium in Zagreb, the 29th round of 1985/86 season. Dinamo Zagreb won 4:3.

International career
He made the Green Eagles squad in 1988 and at that year’s African Nations Cup he scored one of the fastest goals in the history of the championship against the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon.

He played along until the final match, where the Eagles lost to their perennial rivals Cameroon by a lone goal.

Last game and death Okwaraji collapsed ten minutes from the end of a World Cup Qualifier against Angola in Lagos and died from congestive heart failure.

An autopsy showed that the 25-year-old had an enlarged heart and high blood pressure.

The sudden death was similar to that of Marc-Vivien Foé 14 years later.

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