Keshi was a national hero, pacesetter – Atiku
Tom Okpe, Abuja
Former Vice President and Turaki Adamawa, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has described the sudden demise of legendary ex-soccer star and former National coach of the Super Eagles, Stephen Keshi as an untimely loss of a golden sports gem and a pacesetter.
Atiku, in a condolence message issued by his media office in Abuja on Thursday expressed shock and sadness at the passing on of Keshi at the age of 54, describing him as a National hero.
The statement reads, “It saddens my heart to learn of the stunning news of the death of the golden boy of Nigeria football. His departure is more touching when one recalls that Keshi also lost his loving wife of 33 years, Kate, to cancer late last year thus rendering their young children hapless orphans.
“While praying for the repose of the soul of this fallen hero, I would also beseech God Almighty to grant fortitude and grace to the mother, four children, family members and friends that the deceased compatriot left behind”, Atiku said.
Atiku recalled that Keshi was the longest serving National football captain in Nigeria, with 64 caps, and the first to win the African Cup of Nations as a player in 1994 and a national coach in 2013.
The former Vice President also emphasised the urgent need for governments at states, local and national levels to always honour the good deeds of our heroes past.
“His heroic labour and of those before and after him should not be in vain”, he added.
Keshi not an ordinary person, Pinnick says
The President of Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick, said that the late Stephen Keshi was not an ordinary person following the flow of sympathy from around the world since his demise.
Pinnick said this on Thursday when he paid a condolence visit to the family of the late Nigerian football star who passed on early Wednesday in Benin.
“Although the country was saddened by Keshi’s death, the messages the NFF received from around the world have shown that he contributed to the development of the game nationally and globally,’’ he said.
Pinnick assured that the late footballer would be immortalised, considering his contributions to the growth of football.
“Keshi was not an ordinary person. We will miss him a lot. He was a `Big Boss’ because he always wanted to win.
“We are devastated but proud of him and what he has achieved as a footballer.
“Keshi needs to be immortalised and we will be liaising with the Ministry of Youths and Sports for him to be immortalised,’’ he said.
Also speaking, the President of Pamodzi, a sports marketing company, Mike Itemuagbor, expressed regrets that Keshi was being shown much love in death.
He noted that Keshi symbolised a lot to the people and appealed to the media for the sake of Keshi to allow football to grow in Nigeria.
“If Keshi had received so much outpouring of love while alive, he would have performed more for the growth of the game in Nigeria,’’ Itemuagbor said.
Responding, the spokesman of the family, Ricky Aburime, expressed the family’s appreciation of the outpouring of love since their son passed on.
Aburime said the burial plans would be communicated to all after they have decided and agreed upon.
His death a big blow to African football – Obiano
The Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano has described the sudden death of former Super Eagles coach, Stephen Okechukwu Chinedu Keshi as a big blow to African football.
In a statement signed by James Eze, his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Governor Obiano said that Keshi’s death is a massive tragedy that would take Nigerian football a long period to recover from.
“Keshi was an icon of African football. He was a path breaker who opened the door of international football to many African youths when he led the exodus of Africa’s footballing talents to Europe through Belgium. That bold act inspired generations of African players into taking football as a serious career,” Obiano remarked.
Recalling Keshi’s exploits as a player and a coach, Governor Obiano again paid glowing tribute to him for being the only Nigerian to have won the African Nations’ Cup as both player and coach, and the only Nigerian coach to have managed the national teams of three African countries as a coach.
“It will be difficult to find another all-Nigerian-coach like Stephen Keshi who was so proudly Nigerian and carried himself stately like a soldier on and off the pitch in his service to his fatherland. We shall all miss Stephen Keshi,” he added.
Speaking further, the governor said, “Our prayers and thoughts are with the Keshi family and the good people of Delta State in this moment of pain and anguish as the ‘Big Boss’ as he was fondly called, is now in a better place.”
Osun sports writers mourn Keshi
Sodiq Adekunle, Osogbo
Members of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Osun State chapter, have described as shocking the demise of former national coach of Super Eagles, Mr. Stephen Keshi, popularly known as Big Boss.
They expressed their grieves in a press statement signed by their Chairman, Adeyemi Aboderin.
According to them, Keshi remains a pathfinder whose name is written in gold in the history of Nigeria football.
The statement read, “Keshi’s leadership gave meaning to the captainship of the national team and his exemplary leadership quality as the coach of the team led to the victory recorded three years ago when the Super Eagles lifted the African Cup of Nations under his watch as coach.
”He will always be remembered as a leader who did his best to help his country of birth both as a footballer and coach.
“He was the pathfinder for today’s generation of foreign based footballers and his name will continue to be written in gold.”
My last conversation with Keshi, by Okpala
Sylvanus Okpala, a former Assistant Coach of the Super Eagles under the late Stephen Keshi, has described the death of the ex-national team coach as shocking.
Okpala told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Lagos that Keshi’s death was shocking because two of them talked on phone only a week ago.
The ex-Super Eagles midfielder said he never expected that the chat was going to be their last.
`When he called, I left my phone at home because every morning I go to exercise.
“So when I returned, I saw his missed call.
“Then I said ok let me take my bath and after, which I will call him.
“Immediately I finished taking my bath, he called back and we discussed.
“We didn’t even talk much about football.
“I said Oga to what do I owe this call and he asked me if I was ok.
“He asked me about my family and I said we were okay, and I asked about his job, to which he answered in the affirmative.
“Then after two days, I called him back, and we just talked about how we were doing.
“I never knew that was the last time I will hear from him.’’
Okpala, who was a contemporary of Keshi from their youth football days, told NAN that they were invited to the senior national team at the same time.
“We started together from what we call today Flying Eagles in 1978/79.
“We also joined the Green Eagles almost at the same time, the Super Eagles as you call them today, before we met again as coaches at the national team.
“So it has been a long journey together,” he added.
Keshi’s death shocking – Oritsejafor
President of The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, on Thursday, described the death of former Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi, as shocking.
A statement issued by CAN National Secretary, Rev. Musa Asake, in Abuja, said: “On behalf of the President of The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor (OFR), and the entire Christian Community, I commiserate with the family of the late Stephen Keshi, and the entire football-loving Nigerians over the demise of the late former captain and coach of the super eagles,
“With shock and deep sense of loss we received the news of the death of the former Super Eagles captain and coach, CAN is pained. Indeed, his passing is a great loss to the footballing community around the world and the church. Definitely, he would be greatly missed. CAN as a family stands by the family of the deceased at this time of grief, we pray that the Lord will comfort and uphold the family left behind as they take solace in Christ Jesus.
“We want the family to also be consoled that Keshi impacted on the lives of millions of football followers, he lived a good life, ran and won a good race. I pray God to grant his immediate family, Nigeria and the global football community, the fortitude to bear the great loss.
“We also prayed that Nigeria football house to learn from the experiences of the football hero who won many laurels for the nation in the time past. May God grant his soul eternal rest, Amen. On behalf of everyone in CAN, do accept my sympathy.”