- He deserves hero’s burial – Edo govt
Family members of the late former captain and coach of the Super Eagles, Stephen Okechukwu Keshi, yesterday narrated how he died, disclosing that he died on Tuesday and not Wednesday as was widely speculated.
They also disclosed that Keshi was not ill before his sudden death between 11:30 and 11:45 on Tuesday night.
While the late Keshi’s cousin, Ebuka Ofuoni, who was with him when he passed away, was too emotional to speak, Keshi’s brother in-law, Richard Aburime, spoke to journalists at Faith Mediplex Hospital in Benin, where Keshi was pronounced dead by doctors.
Aburime, who described Keshi’s death as sudden and shocking, however said he had regularly complained of pain in the leg, something he said reoccurred Tuesday night.
“He had complained of pain in his leg for some days and they kept massaging it for him. When he complained of it yesterday (Tuesday), they massaged it for him again.
“About one and half hours after the massaging, he was in serious distress and was gasping for breath.
“Ebuka and others who were with him quickly came around and immediately decided that his situation called for hospital. That was how we rushed him to the hospital (Faith Mediplex), a distance of about 20 minutes.
“By the time they arrived the hospital, the doctor certified him dead on arrival. That was between 11:30pm and 11:45pm.
“It was the nurse that first came out. She checked for pulse and said there was no pulse. Doctors later came and do all the stuffs they do, but nothing came out of it,” he said.
Aburime cautioned that people should not speculate on the cause of Keshi’s death until an autopsy is conducted, adding that the family was interested in finding out the cause of Keshi’s death through an autopsy.
He said the autopsy would be carried out in few days by a consultant pathologist with the Nigerian Police Force, Dr Wilson Ohiakhu, and that Keshi’s body would be moved to Stella Obasanjo Hospital in Benin for better preservation.
Aburime, who is the elder brother of the late Keshi’s wife, said the family was aware of a statement by an associate of Keshi, Emmanuel Ardo, on his death, but that such thing was not in Ardo’s place to do.
He, however, said that Ardo’s account in Keshi’s death was largely correct save for “one or two discrepancies,” adding that the family would address the press at the proper time.
Keshi’s remains were later taken to Stella Obaaanjo Hospital at about 11:10am in a Mercedes Benz wagon.
He deserves hero’s burial –Edo govt
Edo State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Prince Kassim Afegbua who visited Faith Mediplex on Wednesday morning, described Keshi’s death as shocking and a great loss to the nation.
He said “Keshi should be given a national burial. He spent 34 years of his life serving his fatherland. He certainly deserves a hero’s burial.”
Keshi: Buhari mourns
“Nigeria today lost a great sportsman, football player, coach and citizen.
“President Buhari commiserates with the family of the late Stephen Keshi, and with the entire country, on his untimely passing.
“Nigerian football will not be the same without Stephen Keshi. He gave this country his all. May his soul rest in peace.”
Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has described the death of Stephen Okechukwu Keshi, former captain and coach of the Super Eagles, as a great loss to the nation and to Edo State where he was resident.
The governor in a statement signed by his chief press secretary, Mr. Peter Okhiria, described the late Stephen Keshi, fondly called the ‘Big Boss,’ as a thoroughbred professional, complete gentleman, a good citizen who impacted positively on his immediate environment where he lived a quiet life.
Oshiomhole said: “On behalf of the government and people of Edo State, I join millions of Nigerians and other sports lovers worldwide to condole with my brother, the governor of Delta State, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, on the sudden death of this illustrious son of the state.
“He was a thoroughbred professional, a complete gentleman and a good citizen of Edo State where he lived quietly and peaceably with his neighbours before he gave in to the cold hands of death. His death is most painful not only to football lovers but to those whose lives he impacted positively.
“While we mourn Keshi, we celebrate his many contributions in bringing joy to millions of homes across the nation and the world with his football skills which were honed during his days as a player with the defunct New Nigerian Bank, NNB, of Benin.
“His name will undoubtedly be written in gold as a great Nigerian ambassador who brought glory to the country and left an indelible mark in the sands of time.
“I pray that the Almighty God will grant his soul eternal rest and his family the fortitude to bear this great loss.”
He was our hero, a jinx breaker –Mark
Former president of the Senate, Senator David Mark has described the sudden death of former Super Eagles captain and coach, Stephen Keshi, as a monumental loss to Nigeria and indeed Africa.
Senator Mark stated: “I received with shock and disbelieve the news of the death of our indefatigable Coach Stephen Keshi popularly called the ‘Boss .’ It’s devastating. It’s a sad story,” Mark lamented.
According to Mark, Keshi was one of the greatest and most successful footballers Nigeria has ever produced.
“Till date, no one has beaten his record.
As a captain of the Super Eagles in 1994, he won the Africa Nations Cup in Tunisia. As the chief coach of the Super Eagles in 2013, he led Nigeria to win the Nations Cup in South Africa.
“He was forthright and outspoken. He was steadfast. He never compromised his position, especially on professionalism, no matter whose ox was gored. Keshi was to African football what Mohammed Ali was to boxing.
“Only a very few men in the world has such an intimidating credential. We cannot question the Will of the Almighty Creator, but this is one death too many.
“Keshi’s death is akin to one death more than a hundred massacred in a pogrom. Keshi was one of our greatest footballers; he lived and worked for Nigeria. He certainly left a huge vacuum that would be difficult to fill.”
Keshi, a pacesetter – Atiku
Also, former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar described Kesh’s sudden demise as “an untimely loss of a golden sports gem and a pacesetter.”
Atiku in a condolence message issued by his media office in Abuja yesterday, expressed shock and sadness at the passing on of Keshi at the age of 54.
“It saddens my heart to learn of the stunning news of the death of the golden boy of Nigerian 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 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.”
His death, monumental loss –Okowa
In his own reaction, Delta State governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa described the death of the late Super Eagles coach as tragic and a monumental loss to football in Nigeria, Africa and the entire world.
The governor in a tribute and condolence message signed by his chief press secretary, Mr Ehiedu Aniagwu yesterday in Asaba, extolled the leadership qualities and sterling contributions Stephen Keshi to the growth and development of football in Nigeria and Africa.
According to Governor Okowa, the sterling contributions of the former Eagles captain and coach to the development of football in Nigeria and Africa is legendary, commendable and worthy of emulation as a great patriot and achiever, having led Nigeria to win the African Nations Cup twice as a player and coach.
Okowa said: “On behalf of the government and people of Delta State, I commiserate with the family of the late Stephen Okechukwu Keshi and the entire football loving fans in Nigeria, over the demise of the late Super Eagles former captain and coach.
“The remarkable achievements recorded by the Nigeria Super Eagles in 1994 and 2013 were unarguably due to his indefatigable role as the captain and coach of the Super Eagles in those glorious years culminating in the winning of the African Nations Cup.
“Delta State and indeed Nigerians have lost a great man whose contributions to the football world can best be described as legendary.
“He will be sorely missed by all and sundry whose lives he affected in several ways. I therefore urge all who mourn the demise of Stephen Keshi to take solace in the fact that his was a life of great accomplishments and service to humanity in which we give thanks to the Almighty God for the indelible footprints of his achievements in the sands of time,” he stated.
His death shocking–Ilaboya
Chairman of Edo State Football Association, Frank Ilaboya, has described the death Stephen Keshi as shocking and devastating.
He said, “It was so devastating. At about 2am today (Wednesday) I got a call from a US-based coach, Dr. Terry Eguaoje, that I should confirm what was happening to Keshi.
“At that time I didn’t know what was happening; I was shocked. So, I quickly established contact with the in-law, Richard Aburime, who told me that it was true.
“He said that he (Keshi) was having a leg pain; they needed to give him a massage. At a point he said that the eyes were turning and by the time they got to the hospital he was dead.
“To the best of my knowledge, I never knew that he was sick; that was why I said that it was so shocking. I know that he used to have this leg pain, maybe because of playing days.
“Keshi is someone that we all love; we all know him as the ‘Big Boss.’ He is one player and coach that is respected and will be missed.
“He was very unique. As a captain he was very exceptional. As a coach he was the only one that has won the Nations Cup as a player and as a coach. It is a big vacuum in Nigeria, Delta and Edo States,” he said.