By Izuchukwu Okosi
The shocking death of former Super Eagles captain and coach, Stephen Okechukwu Keshi in the early hours of Wednesday has as expected led to an outpouring of condolence messages for the legend of Nigerian football by current and past football stars.
Keshi according to family sources died of cardiac arrest, less than a year after losing his wife, Kate, to cancer.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari wrote solemnly on his wrote on his Twitter handle: “Nigeria today lost a great sportsman, football player, coach and citizen.
“Nigerian football will not be the same without Stephen Keshi. He gave this country his all. May his soul rest in peace.”
Super Eagles stars Odion Ighalo and Elderson Uwua Echiejile took to Twitter to express their sorrows at the demise of the first Nigerian to win the Africa Cup of Nations as player and a coach.
Watford of England striker Odion Ighalo who played briefly under Keshi tweeted:”RIP Big Boss. Thank you for everything”!
Elderson Echiejile who was in the Super Eagles team that won the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations with Keshi in charge as handler said:
“This is hurting! You taught us a lot but now you’re no more. RIP Bigboss, we will forever miss you. #Legend #EUE3.”
Former Super Eagles midfielder Dickson Etuhu simply tweeted: “RIP Big Boss”
President of the Nigeria Football Federation Amaju Pinnick also expressed shock following Keshi’s demise.
“This is devastating. We have lost a superhero,” Pinnick said.
“The NFF Board will meet and decide on the best way to honour Stephen Keshi. We will be fully involved in the arrangements for the final burial rites.”
Wadi Degla of Egypt striker Stanley Ohawuchi stressed on the futility of life in his emotional tweet saying:
“What a world, vanity upon vanity, all are vanity. God how could this be possible, at 54? Still can’t believe it. RIP
Big Boss. Only God knows why you have got to leave this world so soon,” the former Heartland of Owerri star wrote.
Former Africa Footballer of the Year and Zambian football hero, Kalusha Bwalya who was captain of the Zambian national in 1994 when the Eagles then captained by Keshi won the Africa Cup of Nations, beating the Chipolopolo 2-1 in the final, was in shock at the shattering news about the legend.
“I can’t believe it. I’m in shock. Keshi and I started almost at the same time in Belgium (1986).