One year after football sage, Stephen Okechukwu Keshi passed on, the umbrella body of professional footballers in the country gathered in Keshi’s preferred homestead in Benin City for the inaugural, Stephen Keshi Memorial Lecture.
Keshi, who remains the only Nigerian to have won the Nations Cup trophy as captain and Coach, was being honoured by a very united professional football body of players, styled Association of Professional Footballers of Nigeria (APFON), headed, Keshi’s former teammate at the New Nigeria Bank Austin Popo.
The hugely attended event had the Edo State Deputy Governor, Comrade Ahmed Shuaibu represented by the Deputy Chief of Staff in the Government House, with the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Sports and several dignitaries of the state in attendance honouring Keshi after one year of his demise.
The event held at the Petrol Workers Union Hall on the Benin City-Auchi Road and justice was done to the topic of Keshi as an icon by no other than Edo FA Chairman, Frank Ilaboya, who represented Mike Idoko, the guest speaker. Ilaboya asked government to not only immortalize Keshi so as to encourage future stars but to use him to sign post the future of Nigerian football, because at a point he was playing with pain-killers and aggravating his knees, which over time caused his death.
Among former internationals that attended the event includes Clement Temile, Dahiru Sadi, Prince Afejukwu, Sam Ikedi, , while a Bendel Insurance, Dynamite FC and Edo Queens were also hugely represented. National Association of Edo State Students NAESS, who are planning a Festival for Keshi and late former national Coach, Shuaibu Amodu were also represented by their leaders.,
A mass was later held at the St Paul’s Catholic Church in Benin City, to commemorate the one year passage of the icon, with APFON promising that the event will be an annual carnival.