PageOne Tribute: Stephen Keshi- A Name Written in Gold

Keshi

The news of his death came to many as a rude shock considering the fact that he lost his wife last December.

Stephen Okechukwu Keshi was confirmed dead in the early hours of Wednesday 8th, June 2016 in a statement released by his brother and aide Emmanuel Ado,  “With thanksgiving to God, the Ogbuenyi Fredrick Keshi family of Illah in Oshimili North Local Government Area of Delta State, announces the death of Mr. Stephen Okechukwu Chinedu Keshi’.

Keshi is one of many Nigerians who have made their mark and printed his name in gold. Although we are worlds apart now, the big boss has written his name across the hearts of Nigerians. To mention specifically, Keshi has achieved as a player and coach, he has helped players find their feet (Home-based players). At a time when over-reliance on foreign legions was the order of the day, the coach was bold enough to hand players the opportunity to represent the country at continental and world stage. These players will never forget like many Nigerians will be forever grateful.

Keshi is a winner and achiever. One key achievement of the boss would be his triumphant days as a player and a coach; a feat he only holds as a Nigerian. Keshi was part of the Super Eagles team that won the Nations Cup in 1994 and narrowly missed out on a World Cup quarter-final place the same year. He led the senior national team to the 2013 Nations Cup title in South Africa putting an end to a nineteen year wait for the coveted major title. His achievement also cut across boarders as he tutored the Super Eagles to a last 16 finish at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil (The only Nigerian coach to have achieved this feat).

The Delta state born coach did not only coach in Nigeria, his expertise was also felt across the Nigerian boarders. He was hired by Togo and Mali as head coach. For Togo, he is the only coach to have taken the senior national team to the World cup championship till date. He spoke French and English fluently so communication was not an issue in those climes.

Chief Executive Officer of Malianfootball.com, Mahamet Traore shared his tribute via social media as soon as the news broke along side former colleagues and journalist who have worked with Keshi in one capacity or the other.

From international community down to Nigeria, the respect and love Keshi has earned cannot be over-emphasized. Beyond the condolence registers and the words or tributes, Nigeria must honour the boss like a hero that he was and is. Naming a stadium, erecting a monument, public holidays in the football family, organizing national competitions and many other commemorative gesture would not be a bad idea after all.

The big boss as he was fondly called was known for his toughness, hence might have offended a few. Some say forgiving the dead is a meaningless gesture while others believe it might not utterly be. Regardless.

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