One of Nigeria’s most flamboyant players, Joe Erico, is dead.
Erico was a part of the coaching crew of the Super Eagles at the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations tournament that was held in Lagos and also helped qualify Nigeria for the 2002 AFCON and World Cup.
He was 72-years-old.
Fondly referred to as ‘Jogo Bonito’ by his admirers, Erico passed on in Lagos after a brief illness. The former goalkeeper’s death was confirmed on Thursday morning by the Super Eagles media officer, Babafemi Raji via Brila FM. The outspoken former Super Assistant coach was said to have complained of stomach ache and then died in his sleep.
Erico started out his football career with the Nigerian Police Force, before having various stints with NEPA, Nigeria Railways, Electricity Connectors of Nigeria and Julius Berger – where he won several silverware.
Among other exploits with the Nigeria national team, Erico was part of the 1976 Africa Cup of Nations staged in Ethiopia. The national football team, then fondly known as the Green Eagles finished third with Erico playing a crucial role.
As a coach, Erico also had a number of highs as he was part of the coaching crew that qualified the Nigeria U23 squad for the Sydney 2000 Olympics. Unfortunately, he was fired on the eve of the competition by the Nigeria Football Federation.
Two years later, Erico was recalled to the national team as an assistant to Amodu Shuaibu, in charge of training the goalkeepers. Alongside Amodu and Stephen Keshi, Nigeria qualified for the 2002 World Cup staged in South Korea and Japan. Again, he was axed by the NFF after the country placed third at the 2002 Afcon in Mali.
All gone to be with the Lord. First was Stephen Keshi, followed by Shaibu Amodu and just this morning, Joe Erico joined them. They had something in common, they coached the national team, the Super Eagles. RIP, loyal soldiers. pic.twitter.com/rWUbX40MQD
— Godwin Enakhena (@genakhena) January 21, 2021
Both Amodu and Keshi, whom Erico worked closely with are also late now.
Tributes are pouring in for the late coach, who many fondly admire for his forthrightness and blunt disposition to issues.
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