Glowing tributes were poured on former Nigeria International player, John Ene Okon, who died on his 47th birthday, yesterday after losing a long-drawn out battle with liver problem.
Ene Okon was the coach of Calabar Rovers until his death.
The stylish midfielder came to national limelight at Acada United, a football club owned by the University of Calabar. The team caused an upset by going as far as the final of the Pepsi-cola NUGA tournament. He was then snapped by Calabar Rovers and later, BCC Lions of Gboko.
The late soft-spoken player was part of dreaded Flying Eagles squad which featured at the 1987 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Chile as well as the 1992 African Cup of Nations.
News of his demise swiftly attracted reactions from his former team mates and coaches.
Etim Esin took to Facebook for his tribute. “What a sad news, my teammate, John Okon Ene passed on today, Calabar Rovers, Chile 87, Super Eagles, God knows best, RIP.’’
US-based former Super Eagles defender, Emeka Ezeogu referred to the late player as a great midfielder: “Rest in Peace, soldier. May God rest his soul. Great midfielder. 1992 Nations’ Cup, Senegal. We’re gonna miss you, son. So long, soldier,” he wrote.
Paul Bassey, CAF/FIFA Match Commissioner who followed Ene Okon’s career as a journalist spoke on his demise.
“Apart from the late Muda Lawal, Okon was a midfield dynamo. His control of the ball was something else.’’
Charles Bassey who coached the late Ene Okon at Calabar Rovers said the deceased ‘’was a very good player. I feel for him. His death is unfortunate.’’
The current Enugu Rangers coach, Imama Amapakabo, was full of words for the late player, saying he has lost a good friend.
He said: “Good friends we’ve had good friends we’ve lost, good times we’ve had good times. We’ve shared together along the way; it was great I can’t forget the past. My tears run endless ever since the news broke to me early hours of this morning. We shared so many times and moments together, pained and heart-broken I am, but what is the answer to the question I ask and want to ask ‘why you, why now’? Who do I question man or the good lord? “Pained as I am all glory to God for the times we shared together.
He was born on March 15, 1969.

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