Former Nigerian international and a member of the Chile 87 squad, John Ene Okon is dead.
Okon, who was part of the Super Eagles team to the 1992 Africa Cup of Nations in Senegal where Nigeria won Bronze medal, died Tuesday at his base in Calabar, Cross Rivers Stated.
Okon, 47, died on his birthday as he was born on March 15. 1963.
Generally described as a talented and very humble player, there has been torrent of tributes pouring for the former turned coach.
One of Okon’s teammate and close friend, Etim Esin, told PREMIUM TIMES that the death of the midfielder was quite painful.
“He was the Messi in our era, we had fond memories together at Calabar Rovers, Chile 87 and even the Super Eagles,” Esin recalled.
Esin prayed for the repose of the soul of the late player, who later became a coach.
“There is nothing more to say than God should grant Okon perfect rest in peace, God knows best no matter what we say,” Esin, popularly called the African Maradona, submitted.
Other ex-Super Eagles players including Fuludu Edema and Emeka Ezeugo also paid tributes to Okon.
Ezeugo described Okon as a great soldier, he said: “Rest in Peace, soldier. May God rest his soul. Great midfielder. 1992 Nations’ Cup, Senegal. We’re gonna miss you, son. So long, soldier.”
Edema recalled that his path first crossed with Okon’s during 1986 Pepsi Cup, in a match between Unical and Uniben in Calabar.
“He had an awesome game and I admired his football. We later met at the flying eagles camp then became team mates in Gboko. Last saw him in Asaba when I invited him to a programme 2014. Adieu my friend. RIP John Ene Okon,” Edema stated.
Though not too famous for scoring goals, Okon scored Nigeria’s first goal at the world youth championship hosted by Chile in 1987.
Okon netted the first goal in the 4th minute in a 2-2 draw with Canada in a group B game played at the Estadio Municipal Concepcion. Adeolu Adekola netted the second goal.
For many, Okon will be fondly remembered for his exploits in Acada United FC of UNICAL, Rovers FC of Calabar, BCC Lions of Gboko, Akwa United of Uyo, Flying Eagles and Super Eagles, during an illustrious football career.
He is one of the most highly decorated footballers from Cross River State.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...