Nigerians woke up with the sad news that Nigerian football icon, former Super Eagles captain and later coach who won the Aftican Nations Cup as a player and coach, died in the early hours of the morning in Benin City, Edo State.
Stephen Keshi did not show any sign of illness or was there any news that he was ill. He was 54 years old.
“He was not ill at all, never showed any signs of illness, but we suspect he never got over the death of his wife,” a friend told The Cable, an online newspaper.
He is survived by four children and his mother.
Keshi, the only Nigerian coach to have won the Africa Cup of Nations, achieved a rare feat in 2013 by becoming only the second person 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.