Keshi remembered on first posthumous birthday

Stephen Okechukwu Keshi
Stephen Keshi

The late Stephen Keshi was remembered by friends and former colleagues on his first posthumous birthday.

Born on January 23, 1962, the late Keshi, who would have turned 55 on Monday, died on June 7, 2016 of suspected cardiac arrest.

While the legacies of Keshi are there for all to see, many are still keen to see that the Big Boss is immortalised by the relevant authorities.

Leading the line of ex-colleagues with tributes to Keshi was Friday Ekpo who played alongside the former Eagles Captain in the Nigeria national team.

In a chat with PREMIUM TIMES, Ekpo submitted that much more could still be done to immortalise Keshi even as he rallied former internationals to come together and take the bull by the horn to ensure that their legacies and labours past don’t go in vain.

“It is sad that Keshi is no longer here with us, we will continue to miss him but we cannot bring him back,” Ekpo said.

“Though I think much has not been done yet to immortalise Keshi, I think we ex-internationals should come up with ideas and ways we can immortalise ourselves” he added.

While Ekpo could not put a finger on a past birthday celebration with the Big Boss, he reckons that it was always a joyous mood around the late Super Eagles Coach.

“I cannot remember any birthday celebrated in camp actually but Keshi is always fun to be with, after matches he is always ready to go the extra mile to make everybody happy,” Ekpo recounted.

Also speaking with PREMIUM TIMES on the first post humus birthday for Keshi, Austin Popo who represents the Players’ Union in Nigeria said the body is already doing its bit to ensure that the name Keshi is never forgotten.

“It is very easy to forget someone’s name here in Nigeria but the Players’ Union have embarked on a project that will surely make Keshi to be continually remembered,” he said

Popo stated that a Football Academy with a vocational centre is to be built in Keshi’s name in Edo State.

According to the Players’ Union scribe, necessary ground work has been done and a dinner to raise funds will soon be held in Benin, Abuja and also in Lagos.

Popo reckoned that Keshi’s footprint on football in Nigeria and across Africa remains indelible

“He remains one of the few Nigerian coaches that have handled the national teams of other countries in Togo and Mali.

“One thing I always like about Keshi is he is not afraid to take risk, look how he integrated young players into the Super Eagles, that is what we are benefitting right now,” Popo concluded.

For another former Keshi colleague, Ike Shorunmu, the Big Boss is simply the true definition of a man.

“When you talk of a real man, Keshi was one. When we were playing together, the kind of encouragement he gave to the team, his carriage, the charisma he showed to the team and his team mates was simply amazing.

“Now, he’s gone and I doubt even in the years to come if we can still get a player with these qualities. If at all there will ever be, it will simply take time,” Shorunmu said.

Among other landmarks, Keshi is the first African Coach to qualify two African countries, Nigeria and Togo, for the World Cup.

Keshi also won the African Nations Cup as a player and as a coach.

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