Former Super Eagles captain and coach, Stephen Keshi – one of Africa’s greatest sporting figures – has died at the age of 54.
The only Nigerian to have won the Africa Cup of Nation as a player and coach died in the early hours of Wednesday from suspected cardiac arrest.
Former Nigeria Captain and Coach, Stephen Keshi, is dead. Reports say the legend died in the early hours of Wednesday, RIP Big Boss.
— The NFF (@thenff) June 8, 2016
It happened one day to the sixth month of the death of his wife, Kate, who died of cancer on December 9, 2015.
A statement signed by Keshi’s brother, Emmanuel Ado, titled: “Stephen Keshi CON has gone to be with his wife” reads:
“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.
“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 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.”
“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.”
Popularly called the Big Boss, Keshi captained the Super Eagles to Nigeria’s second AFCON triumph and first FIFA World Cup appearance both in 1994
He also became the second person in history to win the AFCON trophy as a player and as a coach after Mahmoud El-Gohary of Egypt when he led the Super Eagles to win the tournament in 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
A product of St. Finbarr’s College, Akoka, Lagos, Keshi 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 Sacramento Scorpions.
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.
As coach, he qualified Togo for the Germany 2006 World Cup but was sacked prior to the competition.
He also worked as manager of the Mali national football team, before taking up the role of Super Eagles manager in 2011.
Keshi led Nigeria to qualification for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, which they went on to win, defeating Burkina Faso 1–0 in the final.
He also led his fatherland to Brazil 2014 World Cup, losing to France in the Round of 16.
His turbulent relationship with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) ended with his sack in July 2015 and he was replaced with Sunday Oliseh.
Keshi is the fifth member of the glorious 1994 Super Eagles team to die, after Uche Okafor, Thompson Oliha, Rashidi Yekini and Wilfred Agbonavbare.
He is survived by four children and his mother.