Sports Minister, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi signing the condolence register at the NFF Secretariat on Tuesday
.Pinnick, Okowa, Ilaboya, others meet family
The tap of tributes for Nigerian legend Stephen Keshi, who passed on in the early hours of Wednesday at the age of 54 is still running strongly, with the West African Football Union, the Football Associations of Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Gambia and Mali, former NFF presidents Anthony Kojo Williams, Ibrahim Galadima, Sani Lulu Abdullahi and Aminu Maigari, and Coaches Samson Siasia, Austin Eguavoen, Emmanuel Amuneke and Manu Garba, renowned journalist Dele Momodu and Nollywood ace Richard Mofe-Damijo have also added their voices.
After the messages from Sports Minister Solomon Dalung, football’s world governing body FIFA and former Sports Minister Bolaji Abdullahi on Wednesday, former FA and Arsenal FC of England vice chairman David Dein commiserated personally with NFF President Amaju Pinnick.
In his tribute, the FIFA President Gianni Infantino said “on behalf of the international football community, please allow me to extend my deepest condolences to the football community of Nigeria and, most importantly, to Stephen’s family, friends and loved ones. We hope that, in some way, our words of support may help bring a little bit of peace and solace in this time of sadness.”
Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello said the departed hero has played his own worthy part In shaping and moulding a future for youths of this country. “His leadership prowess and capacity to bring out the best out of those around him, earned him the name ‘Big Boss’. He was a patriotic Nigerian, many times working for the success of the Super Eagles without payment. His patriotism remained unmatched among all the coaches that have etched their names in the annals of coaching in Nigeria,” he stated.
While former Sports Minister Bala Bawa Ka’oje noted that Nigeria has lost a gem, a committed football lover and coach just as former NFF President Kojo Williams noted that “its unfortunate and a sad day for Nigeria football. I can’t comprehend. Too bad. Keshi did his best for Nigeria football
Former NFF President Dominic Oneya said he is still in state of shock to comprehend the reality that the legend is no more. “He was a great player and coach. I was head of the football body when he assisted Amodu to qualify for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, when all hope appeared lost, and they also won bronze at the Africa Cup of Nations in Mali. He remains a Nigerian legend,” he stated.
Former NFF President Ibrahim Galadima remarked that “Nigeria and indeed African football has lost somebody who had given so much to the game of football. His death is sad news and I think it was as a result of the shock of his wife’s death.
To former NFF President Sani Lulu Abdullahi “Keshi was one of the best things that happened to Nigeria football. It may interest us to know that the revolution that Nigeria football witnessed in the earlier 1980’s started with Stephen Keshi, when he moved to Ivory Coast and then to Belguim, which later led to other Nigerian players taking their trade to the European country.
While former NFF President Aminu Maigari insisted that “his death is a rude shock to me, a great loss to the football family and indeed to Nigerians at large. He was a very good coach and it was during my time as the NFF president that I approached him to take over the coaching of the Super Eagles.
The West African Football Union (WAFU) wrote in the message to NFF stated that “what an enormous loss for African football. African football has just lost a monument. WAFU conveys its saddest condolences to Nigeria Football Federation and to the people of Nigeria.
The Ghana FA stated that ” Keshi was a great man and a noble spirit, whose shining example of dedication to football and to footballers was not only to Nigeria but to several countries including Ghana. (The Ghana FA Exco observed a minute silence in honour of Keshi at its meeting of Thursday in Accra).
While South Africa FA wrote in the letter to NFF that “at 54, Keshi was one of the bright young coaches coming out of this continent and having been a captain and solid player during his playing days, you can’t find a better individual whose life was wholly dedicated to the game of fooball.
The Sierra Leone FA wrote that “there is a great emptiness left by Coach Keshi’s passing, but we are certain that the strength of the love that you and the entire Nigerian people share for each other and for Coach Keshi will get you through this difficult period.
Mali FA wrote that”Keshi made tremendous achievements while he was the National Coach of Mali. His devotion, commitment and professionalism were matchless.
Former Zambia Football Association and his contemporary Kalusha Bwalya noted that “Big Boss’ as he was affectionately known, was a much-loved figure not only in Nigeria, but across the African continent.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with South African radio station PowerFM, Bwalya revealed that he was shocked by the sudden passing of his ‘good brother’.
“I’m very saddened and shocked at my good brother Stephen Keshi’s passing,” Bwalya told PowerSport on Wednesday morning.
While Football AmbassadorJohn Fashanu, in his reaction called on government to immortalize the late Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi, by naming a national asset in Abuja, the nation’s capital after him.
But Fashanu, the former Wimbledon striker, raised posers about the circumstances of the former Super Eagles coach’s death.
While the President/Sole Sponsor of Go-Round Football Club of Omoku, Bro. Felix Obuah has described the death of former Super Eagles Coach, Stephen Okechukwu Keshi as a rude shock and utterly devastating.
Bro Obuah, in a statement said by Keshi’s death, Nigeria and the global football community has lost a sporting personage who principally put Nigeria on the top spot in world football.
The Go-Round FC financier whose club won the 2016 Rivers State Federations Cup called on the Keshi family as well as the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to take heart, adding that though the iconic coach may have died, his name would remain indelible.
Meanwhile NFF President Amaju Pinnick yesterday led a delegation of some eminent persons in the country’s football to commiserate with the family of Nigeria legend.
With Pinnick were Chairman of the Delta State Sports Commission, Mr. Tony Okowa, chairmen of the Football Associations of Edo and Bayelsa States, Frank Ilaboya and Porbeni Ogun respectively, and renowned marketing consultant Mike Itemuagbor.
There were also the General Manager of NPFL club Warri Wolves, Moses Etu, former Super Eagles captain Austin Eguavoen and a number of ex –international players.
The delegation was received by late Keshi’s brother-in-law, Ricky Aburimen and cousin, Ebuka Ofonye.
Pinnick delivered a condolence letter to the family, and reiterated that the NFF Board will soon meet to consider the most befitting way to immortalize the former Nigeria captain and coach.