The remains of Nigeria’s football legend, Stephen Okechukwu Chinedu Keshi, will be interred at his hometown, Illah, Delta State on Friday.
The final rites began in Benin, Edo State, on Thursday with a one –hour church service at Saint Paul’s Catholic Church, off Airport Road, before lying-in-state at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, where Keshi played many matches for the New Nigeria Bank FC.
A novelty match between ex –internationals and All-Stars at the same venue, in honour of the former libero, ended 1-1. The body was later taken to Asaba, the Delta State capital.
In Asaba, the remains of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations winning coach laid in state inside the Indoor Hall of the Keshi Stadium, named after the legend by former Delta State Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan.
On Friday, another church service is scheduled for Illah, before internment. Reception will take place at the Omorka Primary School in the serene town.
The NFF delegation to the final rites was led by the president, Amaju Pinnick, and will include, among others, Frank Ilaboya (Chairman of the Edo State Football Association), Neville Bekederemo (Chairman of NPFL side Warri Wolves FC) and Edema Fuludu (Chairman of Delta State League Management Company).
Keshi, one of only two men to have won the Africa Cup of Nations as player and as coach, died in Benin City on Wednesday, 8th June at the age of 54.
The charismatic libero captained the Senior National Team for 11 years, winning the Africa Cup of Nations gold, silver and bronze.
In 2013, as Coach of the Super Eagles, Keshi lifted the Cup of Nations again after Nigeria defeated Burkina Faso 1-0 in the final at Soccercity in Johannesburg.
In a 44 –month spell as head strategist of the Super Eagles, Keshi also took the team to the Round of 16 at the FIFA World Cup, led the team to the FIFA Confederations Cup and qualified Nigeria for the African Nations Championship for the first time, winning bronze at the competition.