Reports have revealed that Nigerian football icon and former coach of the country’s National Team, Super Eagles, Stephen Keshi is dead. He died at the age of 54.
Stephen Okechukwu Keshi reportedly died in the early hours of today, Wednesday in Benin City, Edo state after being ruched to the hospital.
Although he was never reported to be technically ill, but it was gathered that the loss of his wife since last year was really devastating to the former coach.
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Stephen Keshi had lost his wife of 33 years, Kate, last year after a prolonged battle with cancer, and close sources reveal he had not ceased from mourning since then.
Confirming his death, a member of his family as well as one of his close associates emphatically said, “He was not ill at all, never showed any signs of illness, but we suspect he never got over the death of his wife”.
More specific information was gathered from Emmanuel Ado, a brother to the late coach who told PREMIUM TIMES the former international footballer died of Cardiac arrest in the early hours of Wednesday, June 8.
The family has already 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.”
Stephen Keshi, the only Nigerian coach to have won the Africa Cup of Nations, achieved a rare feat in 2013 by becoming the second person in the world 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 is survived by four children and his mother.
May his soul rest in perfect peace as we sympathize with those he left to mourn him.