Keshi’s family spokesperson Emmanuel Ado, said the late coach has been in Nigeria since the funeral of his wife, Kate who died in December 2015.
Nigerian football great, Stephen Keshi is dead. The former Super Eagles coach
who won the African Cup of Nations as a player and manager died in the early hours of Wednesday, June 8 of cardiac arrest.
Keshi was at his family house in Edo State when he died. The former defender
Pulse Sports learnt was scheduled to return to his base in the United States later in the day.
According to a statement by the family spokesperson Emmanuel Ado, Keshi has been in the country since the funeral of his wife, Kate who died in December 2015.
According to reports, his friends say that Keshi was in good health and had no previous heart problems.
The remains of the former Togo and Mali national team coach has been deposited at Faith Mediplex, a privately owned mortuary facility of Idahosa University, Located opposite the Benin city Airport, Benin City, Edo state.
Keshi died of Cardiac arrest at his home in Benin City in the early hours of today June 8th. His death comes six months after his wife of 33 years, Nkem Kate Keshi, died in December after a long battle with cancer.
“With thanksgiving to God, the Ogbuenyi Fredrick Keshi family of Illah in Oshimili North Local Government Area of Delta State, announces the death of Mr. Stephen Okechukwu Chinedu Keshi, ” Mr. Ado wrote.
“ Our son, brother, father, father-in-law, brother-in-law, has gone to be with his wife of 35 years (Nkem ), Mrs. Kate Keshi , who passed on on the 9th December 2015 .
“ Since her death, Keshi has been in mourning. He came back to Nigeria to be with her. He had planned to fly back today Wednesday, before he suffered a cardiac arrest. He has found rest ,” concluded the statement.
Keshi’s wife, died in December, 2015 at a United States hospital » after battling cancer for three years and was buried January, 2016 in Benin.
The late coach and his wife have been married for over 35 years with four children.
Tributes have flooded the Nigerian social media space for the former defender who had 64 caps for the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and a host of other Nigerian football personalities have reacted to the sad news.
NFF president Amaju Pinnick, described the late boss as a ‘hero’.
“Keshi was a superhero. His death is a big loss to Nigeria as a nation, not only to Nigeria football, ” Pinnick said.
Former coach of the Super Eagles and teammate of Keshi, Sunday Oliseh wrote; “Horrible news & Sad day as Our legendary Captain & brother Stephen Keshi dies.May his blessed soul rest in peace.we lost an iconic Hero 2day.”
African football great, Kalusha Bwalya wrote on Twiiter; “Woke up to the sad news of the passing of my brother Stephen Keshi. I can’t believe it. I am in shock . Football legend. RIP.”
Popular Nigerian sports presenter Moses Praiz also wrote; “ So hard to believe he’s gone but my friend, fmr. Super Eagles Capt. & Coach, STEPHEN OKECHUKWU KESHI passed on this morning #RIP.
Former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar also reacted on Twitter.
“ I feel anguished waking up to the news that Stephen Keshi, former Super Eagles captain and coach has passed on ,” the APC chieftain wrote.
“ Keshi was such an admirable and dedicated man who did Nigeria proud with his talent in the game of football. May he rest in peace ,” he added.
Other Nigerians have tweeted their sadness on the death of the football hero.
“ I woke up to the devastating news of coach Stephen Keshi’s death. I am still in shock. Sad sad day for Nigeria,” a Twitter user, Omojuwa wrote.
“ If it is true, that Stephen Keshi is gone, God rest his soul. I admired his courage to work in other countries, rather than be a local champ,” another user wrote.
Born on 23 January 1962, Stephen Okechukwu Keshi started out with St. Finbarr’s College , Lagos and featured for domestic club sides ACB Football Club and New Nigeria Bank .
With New Nigeria Bank he won the West African Club Championship twice in 1983, 1984 before moving abroad to Cote d’Ivoire.
He was one of the first Nigerian players to move abroad, playing for Stade d’Abidjan and Africa Sports.
For African Sports, he won Côte d’Ivoire Premier Division and Cote d’Ivoire Coupe double in 1986 before making his way to Belgium where he played for
Lokeren, Anderlecht , RC Strasbourg , among many others.
At Anderlecht he won the Belgian Cup twice in 1988, 1989 and the Jupiler League in 1991.
His 20-year playing career included stints in Belgium, France, the United States and finally in Malaysia, with
Perlis FA .
‘The Big Boss’, as he was fondly called, made his first appearance for the Super Eagles in 1981 at age 20 and the central defender retired in 1994 after picking up 64 caps.
He scored nine goals and captained the Super Eagles to their second AFCON title in Tunisia 94. He also led Nigeria to their first ever FIFA World Cup in USA where they were knocked out by Italy in the second round.
He is the fifth member of the Tunisia 94 squad to have died.
Uche Okafor, Thompson Oliha, Rashidi Yekini and Wilfred Agbonavbare are the other late players.
At the end of his playing Career, Keshi headed to the United States to get his coaching badges.
He was part of the coaching staff for the Nigerian national team on several fronts, including being the head coach for the Junior Eagles at the 2001 African Youth Championship .
Keshi was coach of the Togo national football team from 2004 and 2006, during which time he surprisingly guided them to their first ever FIFA World Cup appearance in Germany 2006, the first ever Nigerian coach to achieve that feat.
Before the tournament could begin however, Keshi was sent packing, and replaced with German, Otto Pfister.
He returned to coach Togo before he signed for a two-year deal in for Mali in April 2008.
Keshi was sacked in January 2010, after Mali’s early exit in the group stages of the Africa Cup of Nations.
In 2011 he was appointed coach of the Super Eagles of Nigeria, leading the country to the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.
He became only the second person-first was Egypt’s Mahmoud El-Gohary – to have won the Africa Cup of Nations as both a player and coach.
He led Nigeria to 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup and 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil became the African coach to reach the knock out stage where they fell to France in the Round of 16.