One of African football’s best-known figures, Stephen Keshi, has died at the age of 54, the Nigeria Football Federation has said.
According to News Agency of Nigeria, the Chairman, Edo State Football Association, Frank Ilaboya, confirmed on Wednesday that the remains of former Super Eagle’s coach, Stephen Keshi, had been deposited in a mortuary in Benin.
The privately-owned mortuary, Faith Mediplex, is located on the Benin Airport road, in the Edo State capital.
Ilaboya, quoted Keshi’s faimly member, Ricky Aburimen, as saying the Eagles’ former coach only complained of a leg ailment while holidaying at his Airport road home in Benin before he passed away.
He said Keshi had died on the way to the hospital at about 3am.
A statement released by his brother and aide, Emmanuel Ado, read in part, “with thanksgiving to God, the Ogbuenyi Fredrick Keshi family of Illah in Oshimili North Local Government Area of Delta State, announces the death of Mr. Stephen Okechukwu Chinedu Keshi”.
“Our son, brother, father, father-in-law, brother-in-law, has gone to be with his wife of 33 years (Nkem), Mrs. Kate Keshi, who passed away on the 9th December 2015.
“Since her death, Keshi has been in mourning. He came back to Nigeria to be with her. He had planned to fly back today (Wednesday), before he suffered a cardiac arrest. He has found rest.”
Keshi has coached the national teams of Togo and Mali, qualifying the former to the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
In his last job with Nigeria, he won the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations and reached the Round of 16 at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
The ex- international lost his wife, Nkem Kate Keshi only last December. They had been married for 33 years. She died after a prolonged battle with cancer.
Keshi is survived by four children and his mother.
A former captain of the Nigeria national team, Keshi was one of only two men to win the Africa Cup of Nations both as a player and a coach.
He also managed Togo and Mali, and his playing career included a spell for Belgian club side Anderlecht.
He is thought to have suffered a heart attack, local media reported.
As a player, Keshi was part of the Super Eagles team that won the Nations Cup in 1994 and narrowly missed out on a World Cup quarter-final place the same year.
He coached the national side over three spells, leading Nigeria to the 2013 Nations Cup title in South Africa and the last 16 at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
His contract was not renewed after the World Cup but he later returned on a match-by-match deal following the team’s failure to reach the 2015 Nations Cup finals.
He was then sacked as caretaker coach but reinstated after intervention from then Nigeria president Goodluck Jonathan. He was sacked for a final time last July.