Nigeria and the world sports community are mourning the sudden passing away of two of its top coaches few days apart in the same southern Nigerian city of Benin in Edo State.
Although, the autopsies of both ‘mystery’ deaths were yet to be made public before press time, some medical experts alleged heart related causes.
Both Stephen Keshi, the former captain and coach of the Nigerian senior national team, Super Eagles and the four-time coach of same senior national team and until his death, the Technical Director of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF)., Amodu Shuaibu died in Benin City, the Edo State capital of Nigeria.
Stephen Keshi who lost his wife of 33 years to cancer related illness at the age of 54 on 9 December 2015 died at his residence about midnight of Tuesday, 7 June 2016, also at the of age 54. Except of a mild complaint of leg discomfort hours earlier, he was reported to have had no other known ailment prior to his death.
Keshi, who was fondly called Skippo or the Boss in football circles, was a Africa Cup of Nations winner for Nigeria both as a player and a manager and qualified Nigeria for the World Cup making him the most successful indigenous coach.
Coach Amodu Shuaibu died at the age of 58 few days later after midnight on Saturday, 11 June 2016.
Coincidentally, Shuaibu signed the condolence register at Keshi’s home only few hours before his own death.
In October 2014, Shuaibu replaced Keshi as Super Eagles Coach, before being replaced by Sunday Oliseh in 2015.
According to the Nigeria Football Federation, Shuaibu who first took charge of Nigeria at the age of 36, was asked to replace Sunday Oliseh in February, but declined on health grounds.
Shuaibu was reported to have died in his sleep after complaining of chest pain before going to bed.
The death of both football icons shocked Nigerians and others he knew them at home and abroad. Social media went buzzing when the news of Keshi’s death was announced; which suddenly went haywire when that of Shuaibu filtered in. The accompanying panic and disbelief have yet to subside since!
Condolences and sympathies have been expressed from all over the world from ordinary people to top football and government officials from far and near.
President of the Nigeria Football Federation, FIFA’s President Gianni Infantino sent in a letter over the death of Stephen Keshi and Amodu Shuaibu.
“On behalf of the international football community, please allow me to extend my deepest condolences to the football community of Nigeria and, most importantly, to the families, friends and love ones of Amodu and Stephen.
“We hope that, in some way, our words of support may help bring a little bit of peace and solace in this time of sadness,” the FIFA boss stated.
He noted that “with many African countries looking for coaching experience from outside the continent to lead their countries at major tournaments, they were beacon of hopes for coaches from the mother continent.”
In the same light, more messages of sympathy have also flooded social media after news of both deaths stunned the global footballing community.
Other international and national coaches across Africa have also expressed their condolences.