Buhari, FIFA Boss, Others Mourn Keshi

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 President Muhammadu Buhari, acting President Yemi Osinbajo, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Keshi’s Delta State and former NFF president Dominic Oneya among those who have mourned the elegant maestro.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan (who awarded Keshi the national title of Commander of the Order of the Nigeria (CON) after the 2013 Cup of Nations triumph), former vice president Atiku Abubakar, former Senate president David Mark, the Nigeria Olympic Committee and former NFF vice president Amanze Uchegbulam have condoled the family.

The West African Football Union, the Football Associations of Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Gambia and Mali, Delta State governor Ifeanyi Okowa, 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, Nollywood ace Richard Mofe-Damijo and NFF partners Globacom 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.

President Buhari: Nigeria today lost a great sportsman, football player, coach and citizen. President Buhari commiserates with the family of the late Stephen Keshi, and with the entire country, on his his untimely passing. Nigeria football will not be the same without Stephen Keshi. He gave this country his all. May his soul rest in peace.”

Acting President Osinbajo: The news of the sudden death of Mr. Stephen Keshi saddens our nation. As captain and coach of our national football team, his service, dedication and achievements including lifting the Nations Cup both as player and coach remain a great testament to the value of hard work. His personal triumphs and pursuits as a world –class professional footballer inspired many young talented sportsmen and women around Africa.

Former President Goodluck Jonathan: Keshi was driven by a high sense of patriotism and dedication which motivated him to always ply his craft from the front, leading his nation to win the prestigious continental football trophy at pivotal moments, both as captain and coach.

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar: It saddens my heart to learn of the stunning news of the death of the Golden Boy of Nigeria football. His departure is more shocking when one recalls that Keshi also lost his wife of 33 years, Kate, to cancer late last year thus rendering their young children hapless orphans.

Senate President Bukola Saraki: Keshi was an excellent star. His soccer artistry and leadership skills remain unparalleled. His days, while donning the national colours and his stint as a national coach of the Super Eagles could rightly be regarded as ‘Nigeria’s golden moments’ in both national, continental and world soccer.”

Former Senate President David Mark: Keshi was one of the greatest and most successful footballers Nigeria has ever produced. Till date, no one has beaten his record…He was forthright and outspoken. He was steadfast.”

Sports Minister Solomon Dalung: He was one of Nigeria’s heroes whose contributions to the development of football and Nigeria’s sports in general cannot be quantified…I will formally inform the government of the death of this great Nigerian, and I want to assure Nigerians that government will seek ways to immortalize him.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino: 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.”

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta State): The remarkable achievements recorded by the Nigerian Super Eagles in 1994 and 2013 were unarguably due to his ndefatigable role as the Captain and Coach in those glorious years. Delta State and indeed Nigerians have lost a great man whose contributions to the football world can best be described as legendary.

Governor Yahaya Bello (Kogi State): The late Stephen Okechukwu Keshi paid and 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.

Former Sports Minister Bala Bawa Ka’oje: Nigeria has lost a gem, a committed football lover and coach.

Former Sports Minister Bolaji Abdullahi: That we were victorious and won the Nations Cup after 19 years (South Africa 2013) was largely due to the leadership provided by Keshi. He was passionate and committed to the Super Eagles team as he was to Nigeria football. Keshi’s love for Nigeria was never in doubt, whether as a coach, captain of the Eagles or footballer. The greatest captain, the greatest coach, RIP.

Former NFF President Kojo Williams: It’s unfortunate. It’s a sad day for Nigeria football. I can’t comprehend. Too bad. Keshi did his best for Nigeria football

Former NFF President Dominic Oneya: I am still in a state of shock. 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.

Former NFF President Ibrahim Galadima: 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.

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.

Former NFF President Aminu Maigari: 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.

Former NFF Vice President Amanze Uchegbulam: Keshi was an icon of Nigeria football. Nobody can talk about Nigeria football without talking about Keshi. He played his part, both as player and coach, won trophies for this country.

NFF 2nd Vice President Shehu Dikko: You came, you saw and you conquered. A true legend of Nigeria football.

NFF General Secretary Mohammed Sanusi: Keshi will be seriously missed, for his dutifulness, friendliness and leadership qualities.

Former NFF Board Member Dominic Iorfa: Big Boss! Your movement to Europe opened the way for most of us. RIP.

West African Football Union: 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.

Ghana FA: 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).

South Africa FA: 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.

Sierra Leone FA: 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: Keshi made tremendous achievements while he was the National Coach of Mali. His devotion, commitment and professionalism were matchless.

Coach Amuneke: I remembered playing alongside Big Boss at the Cup of Nations in Tunisia and at the FIFA World Cup in USA. It was a wonderful feeling anytime we marched out of the tunnel. Keshi was a true leader as a player and later as a Coach. We have lost a rare gem.

Coach Manu Garba: Today is a sad day for football because of the unfortunate news about the death of our former Super Eagles’ captain and coach, Stephen Keshi. We can’t question God when someone is dead because we all have our appointed time but we would always remember Keshi for being a great leader as a player and coach. His leadership quality is something to be emulated.

David Dein (former FA vice chairman): It was very sad to learn today about the passing of Stephen. He had a wonderful career and will always be remembered by the football world. Please send my condolences to his family.

Super Eagle Kingsley Madu: RIP Big Boss. You are gone but not forgotten.

Super Eagle Moses Simon: We love you but God loves you most.

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