The year is fast winding up with very few days left to spend in this decade.
While most people are already counting down and unveiling their plans and wishes for 2020, there are those, especially in Nigerian sports, that are gone forever.
As part of PREMIUM TIMES end of the year review, we remember nine of such leading sports personalities who are gone forever.
The former Nigeria international passed away at his base in the United States of America aged 31.
During his career, Promise captained Nigeria to the 2003 FIFA U17 World Cup held in Finland, as well as the 2005 FIFA U20 World Cup in the Netherlands where the Flying Eagles were runners-up to Argentina.
At the 2008 Olympics, he played a key role in Nigeria’s silver medal finish in Beijing – scoring in the 2-1 triumph over the United States in the group stage.
Promise made his senior national team debut in 2009, but only played three games and scored one goal.
He played for American club, Austin Bold FC, until his death on October 2, 2019.
The player was buried December 14 in Umudim, Ohekelem, Ngor Okpala LGA of Imo State.
The former Super Falcons striker and maiden captain of the female under 19 team (The Falconets) died on August 21, 2019
Chiejine, 36, died after a brief illness.
Among other accomplishments, the former Super Falcons forward made history in 1999 when she became the youngest player ever to play at the Women’s World Cup for Nigeria.
The Super Falcons incidentally made it all the way to the Quarterfinals in the United States in that edition and that remains the highest level they have gotten to till date.
Regarded one of the foremost athletics coaches in Nigeria, Igwe died on December 19.
Fondly referred to as ‘Toblow,’ the veteran coach died from complications from high blood pressure and partial stroke.
In his lifetime, coach Igwe produced great athletes such as Mary Onyali, the Ezinwa brothers, Uche Emedolu and a long list of other accomplished athletes; especially from the south-eastern part of the country.
The Golden Ball winner at the 1987 U17 World Cup died December 13 in Belgium after a brief incident
Osondu 48, died in Belgium after a brief illness, it was gathered
Born November 28, 1971, in Aba, Abia State, Osondu played regularly for the youth teams of Nigeria, but never had the chance to play for the senior national team, now called the Super Eagles.
In 1987, he participated in the World U-16 tournament in Canada. Nigeria reached the final but lost on penalties to the Soviet Union. Osondu got the World Cup Golden Ball as the best player of the tournament,
Osondu also participated in the World U-20 tournament in Saudi Arabia.
The former international defender and Nigeria Football Federation secretary-general died in Ibadan on February 11, 2019.
While Ogunjobi was the NFF scribe between 2002 and 2005, he was a member of the NFF Executive Committee between 2006 and 2010.
He also sought election to become the President of the NFF but he did not succeed in that bid.
Ogunjobi died at 65
The veteran coach passed away on May 20, 2019, after reportedly slumping and declared dead on arrival at the hospital.
Until his death, Ogbeide was the head coach of Nigeria Professional Football League side, Lobi Stars, a team he joined in 2017 after previous NPFL teams including Warri Wolves, Sunshine Stars among others,
At Lobi Stars, Ogbeide led the club to the group stage of the CAF Champions League this year after helping the team to win the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) title last season.
The former winger died aged 42.
He was a member of Nigeria’s U-17 team at the 1993 FIFA U-17 World Cup led by Kanu Nwankwo and Wilson Oruma. The team went on to win the FIFA U-17 trophy for the second time in Japan.
Mohammed who also played for the senior teams passed on September 27 as announced by one of his former clubs, Gombe United.
A veteran sports journalist and retired Director of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Akinloye Oyebanji died at 62.
Mr Oyebanji served the NTA for 35 years in different capacities, including being a sports broadcaster, and later as General Manager (Sports).
He retired as Managing Director of NTA Properties at the authority’s headquarters in Abuja.
A former sports minister, Alex Akinyele, died in November.
He was 81.
Mr Akinyele served as information minister under Ibrahim Babangida, Nigeria’s military ruler between 1985 and 1993.
It was also during Mr Babangida’s tenure that Mr Akinyele led the Nigerian Sports Commission.