6 reasons the world won’t forget Stephen Keshi

The global football community was left in shock on Wednesday after waking up to the news that former Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi, had passed away.

Keshi, 54, a former skipper of the three-time African champions, died of suspected cardiac arrest in Benin City, barely six months after burying his wife.

The Nigerian government according to Minister of Youths and Sports, Solomon Dalung, “will seek ways to immortalise” this iconic sportsman so as to preserve his great memories.

But first, here we highlight six reasons the Big Boss as he is fondly called, will forever remain in our hearts.

  1. Qualified two nations for the World Cup

On 18 November 2013, Stephen Keshi became the first African coach to successfully qualify two African nations for the FIFA World Cup. He had just qualified the Eagles to the Mundial following a 4-1 aggregate victory over Ethiopia, eight years after stunning the world by qualifying little known Togo to the biggest soccer showpiece in the world.

  1. Only Nigerian to win the AFCON title as coach

Keshi remains the only Nigerian coach to have won the Africa Cup of Nations title. The Delta-born tactician led the West Africans to a third continental crown in 2013. Brazilian coach, Otto Glória, won the first for the country in 1980 while Dutchman, Clemens Westerhof, completed the double 14 years later.

  1. African champion as coach and player

By leading the Super Eagles to glory in South Africa, defeating Burkina Faso 1-0 to clinch a treble of AFCON trophy, Keshi became only the second African to achieve this milestone as both player and coach. The former Mali boss who captained Nigeria at the 1994 edition in Tunisia, joined Egypt’s Mahmoud El-Gohary in the elite category.

  1. First coach to qualify for the World Cup as African champion

Keshi is still the only coach to have qualified an African side to the World Cup as African champions. By this, the gaffer also helped Nigeria become the first country to achieve an African Cup of Nations trophy and World Cup qualification, both in 2013.

  1. First black African coach to reach World Cup knockout stage

Another major milestone for the 54-year-old was at the 2014 FIFA World Cup where he became the first black African to go beyond the group phase. The Super Eagles emerged as runner-up to Argentina in the group before being eliminated by France in the second round.

  1. Only Nigerian to coach in the World Cup

No other Nigerian coach has been privileged to qualify and partake in the FIFA World Cup except the charismatic Stephen Keshi. The 2014 FIFA World Cup witnessed a departure from the past where indigenous coaches where sacked prior to the tournament proper.