Former Eagles goalkeeper, Wilfred Agbonavbare, dies at 48

Wilfred AgbonavbareFormer Super Eagles goalkeeper, Wilfred Agbonavbare, is dead, has learnt.

Aged 48, he died at about 4:00am on Tuesday in Spain.

The defunct New Nigeria Bank of Benin former shot stopper had been treated for cancer in the United States until he was asked to return home to Spain about three weeks ago

The retired goaltender was moved to a specialist hospital in Spain after spending five months in a Florida, United States of America hospital.

His friend and national team-mate, Paul Okoku, said before he was moved to Spain that Agbonavbare was weak to the point his voice could scarcely be heard.

Agbonavbare was quoted to have said: “I was relieved of my job after I was diagnosed with cancer. My wife died of breast cancer three years ago and when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, I spent all the money I made playing professional football on her medical bills to keep her treatment uninterrupted.

“Consequently, I had to send my three children to Nigeria because of my health condition.”

Born on October 5, 1966, Agbonavbare played for New Nigeria Bank F.C. and BCC Lions FC. In 1990 he moved to Spain where he would spend the rest of his career, starting with Rayo Vallecano in Segunda División.

In his second season with the Madrid outskirts team, Agbonavbare appeared in all 38 league games (3,332 minutes of action, 27 goals conceded, second-best in the competition) as the club finished second and returned to La Liga after two years of absence. He continued to be first choice in the following years, contributing with 31 matches to another top flight promotion in 1995.

In 1995–96, Agbonavbare lost his starting position to Spanish international Abel Resino. In the following summer he signed for second level club Écija Balompié, being the most used player in his position but suffering team relegation; after one year in his country training to remain fit, he retired due to lack of offers, aged only 31, subsequently settling in the Community of Madrid.

On the international level, Agbonavbare appeared with the Nigerian under-20s at the 1983 FIFA World Youth Championship in Mexico. He played for more than one decade with the full side, being selected for the 1994 African Cup of Nations and that year’s FIFA World Cup, backing up Peter Rufai on both occasions.