BY ADEDIWURA OKELEYE
Former Super Eagles of Nigeria player and former coach of the team, Stephen Okechukwu Keshi, died in the early hours of today in Benin, Nigeria.
He was due to return to his base in USA later today.
Keshi had lost his wife of 33 years, Kate, to cancer last year.
Mr Keshi, popularly called the Big Boss, is the only Nigerian coach to have won the Africa Cup of Nations.
- Stephen Okechukwu Keshi was born on 23rd January, 1962 in Azare, Bauchi State to the family Ogbuenyi Fredrick Keshi of Illah, Delta state.
- He was a former team manager of the Super Eagles from 2011-2015. He also managed Togo from 2004-2008 then again in 2011, Mali in 2008-2010. He brought Togo to their first World Cup, Germany 2006.
- He was a defender and had a 20-year playing career with Nigeria, Belgium, France, the United States and finally Malaysia. Keshi was part of the Super Eagles team that made the second round of USA ’94. He made 64 appearances for Nigeria and scored nine goals.
- He was one of only two people to have won Africa Cup Of Nations both as a player and as a coach; second was Egypt’s Mahmoud El-Gohary.
- He led the Nigerian Super Eagles to win the 2013 Africa Cup Of Nations. He tendered his resignation the next day and then reversed it later.
- On November 18, 2013, he set the record in African football by being the first African coach to successfully qualify two African nations (Nigeria and Togo) to the World Cup finals.
- He won the CAF 2013 African Coach of the year and was popularly called Big Boss for his awesome leadership skills.
- He was married to Kate Keshi (née Aureme) for 33 years before she died on December 10, 2015 after battling cancer for 3 years. Her death shook Stephen to his core and he admitted it was hard to move on. He told Complete Sports, “It’s still painful, but I’m just holding on for my children.” Kate was buried on January 15, 2016 in Benin.
- Stephen was billed to take up a coaching job in South Africa soon and was supposed to return to his base in the United States later today.
- He died of cardiac arrest early this morning at the age of 54 in Benin.
- He is survived by four children.