Former Nigeria international defender Kelechi Emeteole has passed on at the age of 66 years.
According to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Emeteole “died in the early hours of Wednesday in India where he had gone for surgery for throat cancer.”
â€œThe death of Mr Kelechi Emeteole came to us as a rude shock. A year ago, we lost two legends in the persons of Stephen Keshi and Amodu Shaibu in the month of June. This year, also in the month of June, we have now lost another legend who served the nation creditably, energetically and meritoriously.
â€œOur hearts go out to his caring family that he has now left: his doting wife and children as well as relations. We pray that they will have the fortitude to bear the loss. We also pray that the soul of the departed finds eternal rest. Nigerian Football will miss him dearly,â€ NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, said yesterday in a statement.
Also, the League Management Company (LMC) which oversees the running of the Nigeria top flight also expressed “heartfelt condolences” to the family of Emeteole.
â€œOur heartfelt condolences are with the family & friends of Kelechi Emeteole who worked with several #NPFL clubs as coach #RIPEmeteole, LMC posted on its twitter handle shortly after Emeteoleâ€™s death news hit Nigeria.
The Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, also in a statement expressed dismay and sadness over the death of Emeteole.
Dalung expressed shock that despite the timely intervention of Nigerians to raise funds for his medicals , he still succumbed to the cold hands of death.
He seized the opportunity to commiserate with the family of the deceased, the Nigeria Football Federation and the entire football confraternity over this unfortunate incident.
“When we were still grappling with the reality of Lizzy Onyenwenwa’s death, we have lost another sports icon who was dear many Nigerians.
“This is one death too many, but who are we to question God? All we can do as humans is to mourn the departed and accept the inevitability of death,”Dalung noted with sadness.
Emeteole won 17 caps for the senior national team (then known as Green Eagles) and scored four goals, between 1975 and 1977.
Nicknamed â€˜Caterpillarâ€™ for his no-nonsense approach as a defender, Emeteole won a bronze medal with the Green Eagles at the 10th Africa Cup of Nations finals in Ethiopia in 1976, and later served as assistant coach of the Super Eagles.
He also coached elite domestic teams Enyimba FC, Rangers International, Lobi Stars, Heartland FC and El-Kanemi Warriors, and between 2007 and 2009 was Head Coach of the Beach Soccer National Team, Supersand Eagles.